The talks come while the Senate remains in recess, but Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), who lead the Senate Agriculture Committee, agreed to return to Washington early to continue the negotiations in hopes that a bill might be ready as early as next week.
There is agreement over vast portions of the omnibus measure — including plans to end billions of dollars in direct payments to farmers — but significant differences remain in several key areas regarding new safety nets for commodities and funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps.
Competing House and Senate proposals remain tens of billions of dollars apart — the Senate proposes slashing about $4 billion in SNAP funding over the next decade, while the House would cut nearly $40 billion.
Aides familiar with the talks said that one way negotiators hope to close that yawning gap is by focusing on what’s known as “Heat and Eat.”