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Rural Economy Project

Disagreement Mounts In Congress As Ranchers Wait For Relief

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday extending federal assistance to Eastern Oregon ranchers affected by last month’s wildfires.

 The programs would extend a lifeline to those  who lost cattle in the fires.  But Congressional gridlock could delay that help from arriving.

Both the House and Senate were set to renew these programs in their respective 2012 farm bills.  But while the Senate passed its version, the House hasn’t yet voted. 

Oregon’s Greg Walden says because some members still have issues with the larger bill, the House decided to renew the programs through separate legislation.

“We wanted to make sure at least we could get the disaster aid covered and livestock disaster covered while we dealt with the bigger issues,” said Walden.

But the House pays for those extensions through cuts to conservation programs, and that could prevent the bill from getting a hearing in the Senate.   Two weeks ago, Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced his own legislation extending the programs.  But it’s unlikely either bill will go anywhere until Congress returns in September.


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