Senate to take up farm bill June 10, passage likelyProspects for passage are good since the Senate voted 75 to 22 on June 6 to invoke cloture, which means ending debate on the bill after 30 hours. All 53 Democrats voted for cloture, and the Republicans were split down the middle, with 22 voting for it and 22 against.
By: Jerry Hagstrom, Agweek
WASHINGTON — The Senate will vote on final passage of the farm bill on June 10.
Prospects for passage are good since the Senate voted 75 to 22 on June 6 to invoke cloture, which means ending debate on the bill after 30 hours. All 53 Democrats voted for cloture, and the Republicans were split down the middle, with 22 voting for it and 22 against.
The bill is much the same as the bill that the Senate approved last year, although this year’s bill contains a target-price commodity program alternative that was not in the bill last year. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Sen. John Thune R-S.D., and Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., have objected to this program, saying that it is backward policy, but southern senators and rice and peanut growers have insisted on it. The Senate rejected a bill to change the sugar program, but added an amendment that would reduce crop insurance premium subsidies for farmers who earn $750,000 or more.
The bill covers farm and food policy through 2018. Using the congressional system of 10-year cost estimates, it would cost more than $900 billion over 10 years, with about 80 percent of that spending going to nutrition programs. The bill would cost $24 billion less than current programs if they were extended and will make a small $4 billion cut in the food stamp program, which is now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The vote on final passage will be preceded by a vote on a pending amendment sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., related to the provision of high speed Internet service in rural America, and then vote on final passage.
The Senate rules would allow for more amendments to be brought up during the 30 hours remaining, but that seems unlikely. The bill includes 38 amendments that the Senate passed in 2012 and 14 more amendments that were added this year. Senators filed more than 200 other amendments, but could reach agreement on which ones to bring up or how long to debate them.
Technically, there could be votes on other amendments or a package of noncontroversial amendments added en bloc, but Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told Agweek on June 7 that she doubted any more amendments would be added to the bill. Stabenow said she is open to agreement on more amendments but that so far senators had objected to bringing up any other amendments.
The House is expected to take up the farm bill the week of June 17.