In a somewhat stunning turn of events in the US Senate, the cloture vote this morning appears to have resolved 99% of the issues that might have derailed the 2013 Senate Farm Bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. Nevada) just announced the schedule for the next week or so on the Senate floor. On Monday at 5:00 EDT, there will be 30 minutes of debate on the Leahy amendment to the Farm Bill, followed by a vote on that amendment. Then S. 954 will be voted up or down in its current form subject to whether the Leahy amendment passes.
We believe that the Leahy amendment deals with high speed internet service to rural communities. It appears to be a non-controversial item that won’t move the needle too much in any direction on the final passage.
This means that potentially harmful amendments to crop insurance and agriculture such as the known efforts by Senator Flake (R.) of Arizona and Senator Begich (D.) of Alaska will not be debated and will not be voted upon.
This also means that some of the no votes on cloture such as crop insurance friends Pat Roberts (R.) of Kansas and John Thune (R.) of South Dakota were done in response to their also not getting to debate certain amendments of their own which they felt were germane to the 2013 Farm Bill. Senator Thune was on the floor opposing the inclusion of target prices in S. 954 – so it is apparent that not everyone is 100% pleased with this outcome. My guess is that EWG will light up “twitter world” that their amendments to harm crop insurance ended up on the “cutting room floor”.
ProAg believes that the Senate battles on the 2013 Farm Bill are settled for now and we urge passage of S.954 as amended. Our guess is that the vote will be in favor and by a decent margin reflecting the usual bi-partisan support of Farm Bills in general.
The focus will shift to the House of Representatives and likely the week of June 17th is when that lively debate will commence. Assuming that the House passes something, the final stage will be set for conference committee and potential fireworks in that arena.
Questions or comments are welcome!