Friday, February 29, 2008

Permanent disaster-aid program proposal, and its price tag, are keys to agreement on Farm Bill

Two weeks before the current Farm Bill expires, negotiators are getting close to a compromise "that would provide $10 billion in new money for farm and nutrition programs and include some money for a new, permanent disaster-aid program," which is a key issue, reports Faith Bremner of the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D.

House and Senate negotiators have been trying to a few key differences in their versions of the bill. Last year, the Senate passed a version that was $13.3 billion more than the baseline, including $5 billion for a permanent disaster program, after the House passed a version with $5.9 billion more than the baseline but without the disaster program. Now the House has begun to accept the program, but not the Senate's price tag. Under House rules, "all new spending must be offset by either reducing government spending elsewhere or by raising new revenues," so paying for the additional programs is the final hurdle, Bremner writes.

President Bush has threatened to veto the bill if it exceeds the baseline by more than %$8 billion. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told Bremner he hopes the compromise will help the House pass the Farm Bill by a veto-proof margin. The Senate passed its version with more than enough votes to override any veto. (Read more)

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