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Outlook Murky for Farm Bill

Another cloture vote is scheduled.

It has been over a month since the 2007 Farm Bill was brought to the Senate floor. In that time there have been no votes, action or movement of the legislation forward. The main hang-up has been the inability of the two parties to agree on limiting amendments.

More than 300 were proposed, many of which had no relationship to farming or agriculture. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., made an offer of limiting Republicans to 10 amendments and Democrats to five with two bipartisan riders allowed, but there has been no response to the offer from the Republican leadership.

According to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Reid is planning to call another cloture vote on Friday.

"If we could get 60 votes on cloture it would mean that the only amendments that could be considered are ones that are relevant to the farm bill," Conrad says.

An attempt to invoke cloture in mid-November fell five votes short, and it's uncertain whether it will be successful this time around. Only two weeks remain for action on the Farm Bill during the December session.

"It is time to finish it," says Conrad. "And we could finish it if we just restrict ourselves to legislative matters that pertain to the farm bill."

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