House Speaker Boehner blames Democrats for tardy U.S. farm bill

Reuters

WASHINGTON, Dec 4 (Reuters) - U.S. House Speaker JohnBoehner on Wednesday accused Senate Democrats of blocking thepath to a new U.S. farm bill that would cut food stamp benefitsfor the poor and boost crop insurance coverage for farmers.

In a brief speech on the floor of the House ofRepresentatives, Boehner said Democrats were blockingcompromise.

"When will they (Senate Democrats) learn to say 'yes' tocommon ground?" Boehner, an Ohio Republican, asked rhetorically.At nearly the same moment, the four lead farm bill negotiatorsclaimed to have made "great progress" toward a framework after aone-hour meeting.

Debbie Stabenow, the Senate Agriculture Committeechairwoman, when asked about Boehner's remarks, said thecomments were "not productive."

"We are just going to work together on a bipartisan farmbill and get things done," Stabenow said.

Congress is more than a year late with the $500 billion billand is not in a position to finish until January at theearliest, Frank Lucas, one of the key negotiators, said onTuesday.

The House has proposed $40 billion in food stamp cuts over adecade, nearly 10 times the level contained in the Senate's planand the biggest cut in a generation.

Stabenow dismissed a suggestion floated by Republican aidesthis week that negotiators would settle on $10 billion in cutsin order to sign a deal.

"We'll have an answer when we have an answer. It will begood policy," she said.

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