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Reid files new cloture motion on farm bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed another motion to limit debate and the number of amendments that can be offered to the 2007 farm bill and bring the measure to the Senate floor.

Blaming Republican “delaying tactics” for the Senate’s failure to act on the farm bill nearly five weeks after it was first introduced, Reid said he hopes to find the 60 votes needed to force action on the measure in a vote scheduled for Friday morning.

“Senate Republicans have taken 56 different filibuster-type actions to try to delay the work of the Senate in recent months,” said Reid, addressing the Senate on Wednesday, Dec. 5. “They want to make sure we don’t accomplish anything of significance.”

But Sen. Saxby Chambliss, ranking member on the Agriculture Committee, blamed Reid for the delays, saying the Senate “could have passed the farm bill and sent it to conference by now if the distinguished majority leader had allowed an open process for consideration of the farm bill.”

The farm bill passed the Senate Agriculture Committee in late October and was brought up on the floor Nov. 5. While Chambliss and Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin have been negotiating to limit the number of amendments that could be offered, Senate leaders have been unable to agree on a timetable for debate.

“The bill has not moved since that time due to Senate Republicans’ efforts to pull into floor debate numerous amendments unrelated to agriculture policy that would bog down the farm bill and greatly delay and jeopardize its passage,” Harkin said in a statement on Thursday (Dec. 6).

The vote scheduled Friday marks the second attempt to end procedural wrangling and take action on the bill. The Senate fell five votes short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture on the farm bill before it left for the Thanksgiving break.

“The farm bill came to the Senate with great momentum — it stayed within pay-as-you-go budgeting, yet provided needed investments to rural America, farming families and the nation,” said Harkin. “It is a bipartisan measure that passed committee by voice vote without a single vote voiced against it.

“Yet after a month before the Senate, the bill remains deadlocked. The Republican leadership has rejected any deal to allow the farm bill to move forward. So clearly, with just two legislative weeks remaining before the holiday recess, we are heading toward a train wreck.”

A number of farm organizations including the National Corn Growers Association and the National Farmers Union have been urging the Senate to act on the farm bill so that farmers can begin planning for the 2008 crops.

“I take heart from the fact that there are some responsible Republican senators and representatives who understand this,” said Harkin. “They are urging the president and the Republican leadership in Congress to end the deadlock, to negotiate, and to reach reasonable compromises.

“With goodwill and a spirit of compromise, we can pass a good farm bill before the holidays. This will be good for the country. And the president and his friends might just find that it’s good politics, too.”

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