WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - 47 representatives and eight senators are tasked with coming together to pass a package called the Farm Bill, in hopes of sowing certainty for farmers and those who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. All three of North Dakota’s federal lawmakers were selected to the conference committee that brings both chambers together.
“They’re political appointments no question about it,” said Gary Nordlinger, a professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.
Politics are firmly planted in Farm Bill negotiations. Two of the lawmakers selected to the conference committee are Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), opponents in one of the most hotly contested senate races of 2018.
“Chuck Schumer wants to hang on to her seat in the Senate,” said Nordlinger.
Nordlinger says it’s no surprise Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) chose Heitkamp for the Committee. He says the same about House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) choosing Cramer. Agriculture is king in North Dakota and Nordlinger says being able to show constituents the power of their voice in the national agriculture conversation is crucial.
“She’ll be able to say, ‘I saved this for North Dakota.’ He’ll be able to say, ‘I did this for North Dakota,’” said Nordlinger.
Cramer is not on the House Agriculture committee, but will represent the Energy and Commerce Committee in discussions. Heitkamp is one of the lower ranking members of the Senate Agriculture Committee but says she has been active in writing the Senate version.
“I will have the opportunity to have input on all parts of the Farm Bill. Congressman Cramer’s input will be limited,” said Heitkamp.
“I wrote a lot of the stuff that’s in the House bill so, you know, a seat at the table is what you need to have influence that we’re all going to have,” said Cramer.
Cramer says he expects to be called back early from the House’s month long break to begin meetings on the legislation.