Completion of debate and vote on final passage of a 2012 Senate farm bill (S. 3240) is possible over the next several days. Senators last night consented unanimously to a finite list of 73 amendments for lawmakers' consideration. Some of the amendments are farm-bill relevant, but others are not, but all of them are approved for debate. Not all of the 73 proposals are expected to be offered for debate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), together with the Senate Agriculture Committee leaders, negotiated the finite amendment list, which was reduced from as many as 300 late last week. Issues addressed in the approved list of 73 include crop insurance, food stamps, average adjusted gross income, conservation, and a cap on marketing loan payments. The Conrad-Chambliss amendment to authorize an options-based farm safety net proposal that included a price-based alternative is not on the approved list.
"This evening we reached agreement for consideration of amendments to the farm bill," Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told the Senate last night, just prior to adjournment. In a related news release, Stabenow said, her committee's farm bill "is unlike any other before it--it cuts spending, ends subsidies, improves accountability and strengthens healthy food systems."
According to the consent agreement, amendments will be debated alternating between republican and democratic sponsored proposals. Sixty votes will be needed to pass eight of the amendments. When debate on the bill has concluded, the vote on passage of the legislation will be subject to a 60 affirmative vote threshold.