Senate could vote on farm bill next week

The U.S. Senate is on Memorial Day recess this week, with many senators in their home states meeting with constituents. Floor debate on the farm bill is unfinished. Although the Senate has considered many amendments, many still await consideration. ( has this full list of amendments.) Crop insurance remains a hot topic in amendment debate, according to this piece in The Hill.

During his weekly phone conference, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley told a group of ag broadcasters that his chamber could wrap up debate and vote on the new five-year bill to fund farm and nutrition programs by next Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s drive to take up immigration reform, Grassley said, could help spur the Senate to wrap up the farm bill.

“You get expectations up, push people along or nothing gets done,” Grassley said. “And I think [Reid] can get the immigration bill started next week, probably Thursday night, and then he’s met his goal as well.”

The House of Representatives lags behind the Senate on the farm bill. The House does have a bill put forward by its agriculture committee, but it has not yet reached the floor for debate— leaving it for the moment in the same place last year’s bill languished. But this time, House Speaker John Boehner has said the farm bill will see debate on the floor.

Grassley said as long as the House passes a version of the bill this summer, the two chambers should be able to hammer out their differences and get something to the president’s desk.

“I’m kinda hoping the president gets to sign a farm bill before our August summer break,” Grassley said. If that doesn’t happen, the bill will have just a few weeks to get finalized before the current one-year extension expires on Sept. 30.

“I doubt if it carries over into September,” Grassley said.