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Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole is skeptical of farm bill strategy

Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Tom Cole says separating food stamps from farm programs to secure House passage could be “political malpractice” if the strategy fails.
by Chris Casteel Published: June 28, 2013

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said in a radio interview in Oklahoma on Wednesday that he didn't favor separating food stamps from farm programs.

Few Republicans likely would vote for a food stamp bill, Lucas told the Oklahoma Farm Report, and many urban lawmakers “only tolerate farm policy because it's attached to the social nutrition programs.”

“I don't think you can pass a farm bill without some incentive for our friends who live outside rural America to vote with us,” Lucas said on the show.

Cole said that separating the two components would be a high-risk move, particularly since both parts likely would be shaped to satisfy the most conservative wing of the House Republican conference. Even if they passed the House, he said, they ultimately would have to be reconciled with the farm bill passed by the Senate, where Democrats are in the majority and object to major cuts to food stamps.

Cole said House GOP leaders should defer to Lucas on strategy because of the Oklahoman's expertise in agriculture and the House politics of farm bills.

Lucas told the Oklahoma Farm Report that other options for passing the bill are under consideration and that he would work as quickly as possible to find an approach that would secure a majority of the House.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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