▶Farm, im­mi­gra­tion bill in crosshairs.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

House Repub­li­cans hit ma­jor ob­sta­cles Thurs­day in their push to pass an $868 bil­lion farm bill as con­ser­va­tives threat­ened to de­rail the leg­is­la­tion un­less lead­ers agreed to hold a vote on an en­force­ment-heavy im­mi­gra­tion bill.

GOP lead­ers said they’re will­ing to al­low an im­mi­gra­tion vote in the fu­ture, but said they want to ap­prove the farm bill this week to keep their own sched­ule in­tact.

“We’re not go­ing to stop work­ing until we pass it,” said Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Re­pub­li­can.

Both the farm bill and the im­mi­gra­tion fight di­vide the GOP — which is why con­ser­va­tives be­lieve they can use lever­age in one to get con­ces­sions on the other.

In this case, Rep. Mark Mead­ows, North Carolina Re­pub­li­can and chair­man of the con­ser­va­tive House Free­dom Cau­cus, said he has enough of his mem­bers will­ing to with­hold sup­port for the farm bill to sink the ef­fort — un­less they get their im­mi­gra­tion vote.

They want to see the House take up a bill spon­sored by Rep. Bob Good­latte, Vir­ginia Re­pub­li­can and chair­man of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee. The bill would crack down on sanc­tu­ary cities and those who re­peat­edly cross into the U.S. il­le­gally, would speed up de­por­ta­tions from the border, and would con­tinue the Obama-era DACA pro­gram by writ­ing it into law. Cur­rently, De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals is an ad­min­is­tra­tive pol­icy, and sits on shaky le­gal foot­ing.

They’re try­ing to head off an ef­fort by lib­eral Repub­li­cans and Democrats to pass a bill that would grant citizenship rights to Dream­ers, with­out any of the border se­cu­rity or im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy changes Pres­i­dent Trump wants.

A pe­ti­tion drive on the pro-Dreamer bill is close to suc­ceed­ing, but if the con­ser­va­tives can first se­cure a vote on their en­force­ment-heavy al­ter­na­tive, they hope it would scut­tle those other plans.

Mr. Scalise said Re­pub­li­can lead­ers are in­clined to give the con­ser­va­tives their chance, even though the bill will fail.

“There’s a strong de­sire that even if the votes won’t be there ul­ti­mately [to] have a vote on the bill, and I think it’s im­por­tant we do that, and to get a date cer­tain,” he said.

That con­ces­sion shows just how des­per­ate GOP lead­ers are to get a win on the farm bill, which would reau­tho­rize fed­eral crop sub­si­dies, agri­cul­tural sup­ports and gov­ern­ment food pro­grams through 2023.

Pow­er­ful farm lobby groups want the ex­ten­sions, but most Democrats are with­hold­ing their votes, com­plain­ing about new work re­quire­ments for food stamp re­cip­i­ents, even as con­ser­va­tives say they wanted to see even deeper spend­ing cuts.

Agri­cul­ture Chair­man Mike Con­away did man­age to beat back two “poi­son pill” amend­ments Thurs­day he said would have de­railed the bill.

One, pushed by Rep. Vir­ginia Foxx, North Carolina Re­pub­li­can, would have made changes to fed­eral rules gov­ern­ing the sugar in­dus­try.

The cur­rent sys­tem re­lies on a com­bi­na­tion of price sup­ports and tar­iffs fa­vored by do­mes­tic sugar pro­duc­ers but op­posed by crit­ics who say the poli­cies amount to cor­po­rate wel­fare.

An­other amend­ment, from Rep. Tom Mc­Clin­tock, Cal­i­for­nia Re­pub­li­can, would have wound down cer­tain agri­cul­ture sub­si­dies over the next 10 years.

Mr. Con­away had said the mea­sures would be ma­jor shocks to a strug­gling U.S. farm in­dus­try, and that they could up­end the en­tire bill by caus­ing mem­bers in agri­cul­ture-heavy dis­tricts to bolt.

“Do we want to pro­tect Amer­i­can farm­ers from un­fair com­pe­ti­tion in the world, or do we not?” said Mr. Con­away, Texas Re­pub­li­can.

Democrats, mean­while, con­tin­ued to protest the new food stamp work re­quire­ments.

“Repub­li­cans should scrap this bill,” said House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi. “This is ide­o­log­i­cal, about I don’t know — tak­ing food out of the mouths of ba­bies. That, maybe, is a pri­or­ity for them.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“Do we want to pro­tect Amer­i­can farm­ers from un­fair com­pe­ti­tion in the world, or do we not?” asked House Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee Chair­man Mike Con­away of Texas.

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