Farm Bill Debate Moving Forward in Senate

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 07 Dec 2007 04:38:00 GMT

CQ reports that yesterday evening a bipartisan deal was struck on how to manage the farm bill debate. The deal limits the number of amendments evenly between parties at twenty each. The farm bill had been stalled before the Thanksgiving recess and is under a veto threat.

As Sen. Reid announced this morning on the Senate floor, Sens. Harken and Chambliss will be managing the amendment process. Votes on the amendments and the bill will take place on Tuesday, December 11.

Senate leaders struck an eleventh-hour deal on the 2007 farm bill, agreeing Thursday to debate 40 amendments before lawmakers leave for the holiday recess.

The number of amendments will be split evenly between both parties, with each offering 20, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday night.

“It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’re going to finish the farm bill before we leave, unless something untoward happens,” Reid added.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the agreement represented a “significant step” toward finishing the bill before the end of the year.

Lawmakers have been batting around many amendments since the bill stalled in early November, but only proposals filed by Nov. 14 will be up for consideration, said a Senate Agriculture Committee aide.

Some non-germane proposals may be debated, including an amendment that would change the estate tax and one that would affect how commodity markets handle energy-related derivatives.

The compromise follows almost a month of gridlock over the measure. More than 250 amendments were filed at the beginning of November.

Reid, who complained that many of the Republican amendments had nothing to do with agriculture policy, tried to limit debate Nov. 16 after both parties failed to winnow their lengthy list of amendments. But he fell five votes short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture.


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