The House of Representatives on Tuesday narrowly voted down an amendment that would have required the Agriculture Department to notify the House every time it made a decision to change how to classify crops as livestock.
The amendment, introduced by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), was approved by a vote of 217-205.
But it didn’t end the debate.
Instead, the House voted to send the measure to the Senate for consideration, which could be a lengthy process.
A spokesman for Bridensteine said the House has been working on the amendment for weeks, and that he had not heard from the administration about the outcome.
The vote comes just hours after a House Agriculture Committee vote to repeal the Agricultural Adjustment Assistance Act, which provides money to farmers for expenses like hiring additional staff, planting and harvesting, and paying rent.
Under the new law, USDA could have taken steps to stop the move to classify certain crops as agricultural.
However, a senior administration official told reporters on Monday that the department would continue to use its existing classification system.
For example, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Secretaries Office would continue issuing new crop labels, and the Agricultural Research Service would continue conducting research to understand how to use those labels to help producers better understand their crops, the official said.
Even with the amendments, the measure would not have stopped the Agriculture Secretary from making the change.
It is unclear what the changes would have meant to the USDA’s ability to issue food labeling and the amount of food produced in the U.S. from agricultural operations, the officials said.
The Department of Agriculture also said in a statement that it is continuing to work to address the issue, which is a priority of the President.