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Corn+Soybean Digest

Most Of Farm Bill Becomes Law

The U.S. Senate last Thursday voted 82-13 to override President Bush’s veto of the new farm bill, enacting most of the bill into law.

However, further Congressional action will be needed due to an apparent “clerical error” that resulted in the omission of the entire 34-page trade title from the farm bill sent to the president on Tuesday.

Democratic leaders said the omitted section did not imperil the legitimacy of the veto override. "There are a number of precedents that what we did yesterday (May 22) was valid," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told Reuters News Service.

House Republicans accused Democrats of cutting corners in a rush to enact the bill before Memorial Day. "The fact is, that's not the bill we voted on," said David Drier of California.

As it stands now, it appears that President Bush will veto the farm bill twice and be overridden twice.

Congressional aides told Dow Jones Newswires the strategy to get the omitted section into the farm bill is for both the Senate and House to re-approve complete farm bills and then resend the legislation to the White House where Bush is expected to once again veto it. Both houses of Congress would then have to once again override that veto, then replace the partial farm bill with a full version.

New petitions to the U.S. for foreign food aid or financial help to buy U.S. agriculture commodities will be put on hold while Congress works to rectify the error, USDA Undersecretary Mark Keenum told Dow Jones on Thursday.

The impediment to U.S. food assistance should be minor if Congress fixes the mistake quickly, but the chance of significant harm to those in need rises the longer lawmakers allow the process of fixing the farm bill to drag on, Keenum said.

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