The Senate adjourned for the week on Thursday evening without taking any further action on the farm bill. And Capitol Hill observers are unclear as to what might happen next.
In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hinted that the Senate could have a vote on the farm bill as soon as this Monday evening. But he did not specify what type of vote that will be.
At last report, there’s still no agreement on which of the now more than 270 amendments will be considered by the full Senate. Unless an agreement on an amendment package can be reached, it is anticipated that Reid will file cloture on the bill early next week.
One of the hang-ups, according to a DTN report, is a demand by Republican leaders to attach some regulatory relief measures involving mainly EPA, but also the Corps of Engineers and other agencies. While some of the regulations may specifically affect farmers, Democratic leaders have argued those amendments are not germane to specific provisions of the farm bill.
One of the newest amendments, filed Thursday by Kent Conrad of North Dakota, is designed to get southern farm state senators to back the bill. It would continue the counter-cyclical target price subsidy that the underlying bill eliminates.
Meanwhile, several agricultural groups, including the American Soybean Association, are voicing strong opposition to an amendment proposed by South Carolina’s Jim DeMint that would make all checkoff programs voluntary.