Amid fading hopes that the Senate would act on the 2007 farm bill before Congress began its Thanksgiving recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday filed a cloture motion. The majority leader’s action came as senators on both sides of the aisle expressed growing frustration over the failure of the Senate to take one vote on the farm bill more than a week after it was brought to the floor.

The vote to limit debate, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 16, seemed to further lessen the chances the bill could pass the Senate, go to a House-Senate conference committee and reach the president’s desk before the end of the year. “It is frustrating and perplexing that we cannot move such a strong, bipartisan measure,” said Harkin, whose committee passed its version of the farm bill by a unanimous vote back in October.

“Just yesterday (Nov. 14) I asked the Republicans to allow the Senate to vote on amendments that they themselves want to offer for debate,” said Harkin. “Five times I asked for that. My request was rejected out of hand. So I think it is very clear who’s stopping this bill.”

The motion to invoke cloture, which requires 60 votes for passage, would allow 30 hours of debate and the introduction of a limited number of amendments germane to the farm bill, Harkin told reporters during a weekly press briefing.

“I just received an e-mail from the minority leader’s office that says 265 amendments are now pending,” said West Higginbotham, agriculture aide for Sen. Thad Cochran. He said the cloture motion could determine whether Congress passes a farm bill in 2007 or continues to pass extensions of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, the current law.
Source: Delta Farm Press