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This is hopeful news. Greg Sargent at WaPo is reporting that House Democrats plan to withhold votes on the Farm Bill until or unless the Unemployment Benefits that are expiring are instead extended:

Once Congress returns, they will refuse to support the reauthorization of the farm bill — which will almost certainly need Dem support to pass the House — unless Republicans agree to restart unemployment benefits with the farm bill’s savings.

Under no circumstances should we support the farm bill unless Republicans agree to use the savings from it to extend unemployment insurance,” Dem Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a top party strategist, told me today. “This is a potential pressure point. We’re going to have to resolve differences in the farm bill because otherwise milk prices will spike. If past is prologue, they are going to need a good chunk of Democrats to pass the farm bill.”

Van Hollen said that he would organize among Democrats to get them to make this stand, and suggested he expected the House Dem leadership to do the same.
“I will encourage my colleagues to take that position,” he said. “I’m confident that the House Democratic leadership will look for every opportunity to extend unemployment insurance, helping struggling families and the economy. The farm bill reauthorization may be the first such opportunity.” (Nancy Pelosi has already vowed to keep pushing, so she may favor this approach.)

The farm bill will create $15B in "savings," money that can be used to help the unemployed.  Hard to know if it will work, but at least it's worth trying.

Originally posted to TomP on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 11:19 AM PST.

Also republished by Maryland Kos.

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