As they sift through the details of the enormous farm bill, Democratic aides are feeling optimistic that the vote could come to them next week. That’s because in a bid to settle a standoff between the agriculture-heavy House and the N.J.-based-Democratic-led Senate over environmental issues, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is willing to drop the party’s demand for a climate-change rider from the bill — which would put the brakes on the GOP’s hard-line opposition to former vice president Al Gore’s carbon-trading proposal.
That rider would have required the Environmental Protection Agency to review all existing projects and require their emissions to be at least as low as permitted in the Clean Air Act. The fact that the EPA was reviewing renewable energy projects’ carbon emissions made its inclusion in the bill an embarrassment for Ryan, who has pledged to do away with the EPA’s role in energy policy.
Ryan said Wednesday that the EPA’s review requirements were harmful to the energy industry and that the House was “not going to deal with what amounts to an EPA bailout.”
The negotiations are an attempt to reach a deal on a farm bill that would cap federal spending at $871 billion in 2019. The House approved the bill with $421 billion in spending last month, and the Senate has $8 billion more. Talks between the two chambers were marred by budget disputes; there have been frequent disputes over exactly what the bill would buy farmers, and numerous House leaders have stepped down in the process.