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Braley to Use Discharge Petition to Force House Vote on Farm Bill

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa Facing the possibility House Republican leadership will delay a scheduled vote later this week on a five-year farm bill, Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley has launched an effort to force action on the "must-pass" legislation.

As he did last year, Braley said today he will seek to get at least 218 of 435 House members to sign a discharge petition to force a full House vote on the bill that was approved in the Senate by a 66-27 vote.

"A lot of people are concerned the longer it drags on, the more difficult it will be to find votes to pass a bipartisan farm bill," Braley said.

For the Iowa economy, he said, the farm bill is arguably the single-most important legislation Congress will take up this year. Iowa weathered the economic downturn largely because of the strength of the agriculture economy, according to the Waterloo Democrat.

"There are a lot of things in the bill that are very critical to the economy in Iowa," Braley said in his weekly conference call. Passage of the bill would give farmers much-needed "certainty and predictability."

There's speculation House Speaker John Boehner will delay a scheduled a vote on the farm bill Thursday. Approximately 200 amendments have been filed and it has been suggested President Obama will veto the bill if Republicans go ahead with a $20 billion reduction in food stamp funding.

Failure to pass the bill would be directly tied to that cut, Sen. Chuck Grassley suggested Wednesday. The Senate approved a $4 billion cut less than one-half of 1 percent in food programs in the farm bill.

It appears to Grassley that about 50 Democratic votes will be needed to pass the bill in the House. To get those votes, Boehner may have to reduce the size of the cut. However, that may cause more Republicans to withdraw their support.

Last year, Braley was able to round up just 68 signatures on his discharge petition. He was hamstrung by a late start, so that's why Braley is starting earlier. He can begin collecting signatures June 28.