Farm Bill Primed for Senate Action

With the House in recess next week, all eyes will be on the Senate.  The upper chamber is expected to spend at least a week working on the farm bill, which also includes food stamps and absurd biofuels subsidies. CQ (sub. req’d) has the details:

Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said Thursday that staff would work through the weekend to attempt to reduce the number of amendments in order to the $969 billion bill (S 3240), trying to convince senators to withdraw amendments with similar intent.

“I think this has to cook a little bit because everybody has the right to bring an amendment,” Roberts said. “Who knows? Maybe we’ll go back to regular order and it will be a bill where people feel free to offer any amendments that they want.”

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday that he hoped the negotiators could make “significant progress” by Monday.

Roberts has said the bill could be completed as early as next week, but with the Senate not expected to vote on any amendments until at least June 12, that may be overly optimistic.

With Senators on both sides of the aisle and from every region of the country offering dozens of amendments, it is shaping up to be a long debate. In a preview, The Hill details competing amendments on food stamps:

Conservative Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have offered amendments to the farm bill that would greatly cut federal spending on food stamps.

At the same time, liberal Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is attempting to restore the $4.3 billion in food stamp cuts already in the bill and the White House is saying that the farm bill’s current cut is too much.

Paul’s amendment would cut the most, by block-granting the entire food stamp program. The House-passed GOP budget backs this approach.

The Hill quotes a Republican aide who believes “This is going to be a big fight.” The aide is right, and Heritage Action plans to be in the middle of it all.

Get the latest on the farm bill, here.

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