The Senate broke a deadlock that had threatened to bring down a half-trillion-dollar farm and food bill, setting the stage for expected passage of the measure later this week.
According to the Associated Press, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a list of 73 amendments that were acceptable to both parties. That was out of the approximately 300 proposed amendments to the measure, a 1,000-page bill that will set farm policy over the next five years and provide nearly $80 billion a year for the federal food stamp program.
Democrats and Republicans had negotiated for days on a package of allowable amendments, with the main sticking point being amendments concerning such issues as foreign policy and budgetary matters that were unrelated to the farm bill.
Voting on the amendments will start today with much of the attention centered on proposals to cut food stamp spending or put limits on subsidies offered farmers for crop insurance.
The farm bill differs significantly from past farm policy in eliminating direct payments to farmers even when they don’t plant crops, and instead stressing crop insurance and a new program that compensates growers for revenue losses, the AP reports.
Even with Senate passage, the bill could face an uphill battle in the House, where conservative opposition to farm bill spending is high. The House Agriculture Committee has been waiting for the Senate to act before moving ahead with its version.