Friday, November 16, 2007

Democratic attempt to limit Farm Bill debate fails

Unable to reach a compromise with Republicans on amendments for the Farm Bill, Senate Democrats tried today to curtail debate. Sixty votes are needed, and the vote was 55-42. Republicans voting for cloture were Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Gordon Smith of Oregon, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, and John Thune of South Dakota. "Independent Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also voted with the Democrats," noted the Iowa Independent, which also noted the absence of Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Even if Democrats had won the vote, "Senate rules would still permit up to 30 hours of debate and senators could not finish work on the bill until after the two-week recess," Philip Brasher of the Des Moines Register's Washington Bureau noted this morning. (Read more)

The vote came after nine days of gridlock on the bill. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said before the vote that without cloture, the Senate would be forced to extend the 2002 Farm Bill, reports Agriculture Online. "When asked how long that extension would be, one year or two, he said, 'If we can't get a farm bill through the Senate that came out of the committee without a dissenting vote, what's the point of doing it next year with the same Senate?' " writes Dan Looker.

Meanwhile, in the House, Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., introduced legislation to extend the 2002 Farm Bill until September of next year, reports Looker. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told Looker such an extension is necessary to keep farm programs reverting to 1938 and 1949 laws. The current Farm Bill was passed in 2002 after a year's delay. (Read more)

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