House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday appointed dozens of lawmakers to the farm bill conference committee after the chamber agreed to head to conference.

Paul Ryan named 20 Republican as conferees, while Nancy Pelosi selected 18 Democrats.  A majority of the lawmakers, 23 of them, sit on the Agriculture Committee.

Those actions were among the last hurdles to formally kick of negotiations between the House and Senate to reconcile their respective versions of the agricultural and nutrition measure.

The Senate still has to vote on a motion to go to conference as well as name is conferees.  Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) has said that may happen as soon as next week.

The party leaders’ announcement on Wednesday came shortly after the House voted 392-20 for a motion offered by Collin Peterson (D-MN) that instructs conferees to provide 10 years of mandatory funding for a new federal initiative to prepare and respond to animal disease outbreaks.

The House farm bill would authorize $450 million in mandatory funding for the new initiative, knows at the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program, which includes a U.S. vaccine bank.  The Senate version, however, would leave it up to appropriators to decide spending levels for the program.


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