SENATE MAY VOTE ON FARM BILL AMENDMENTS TODAY
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senators are expected to begin voting on amendments to the farm bill today. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have released a list of the amendments they will offer, but American Farm Bureau Federation lobbyists believe a payment limits amendment by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) will be the first considered.
The AFBF opposes this amendment, as the Senate Agriculture Committee already addressed this issue with significant reforms.
On Monday, AFBF President Bob Stallman sent a letter to senators expressing the organization's positions on various amendments that are likely to be offered. "The limitations already included in the Senate Ag Committee passed bill are more than adequate 'reform' to the current system," wrote Stallman.
The five senators running for president could provide important votes on the payment limits amendment, according to an article in today's edition of The Des Moines Register.
Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), Barack Obama (Ill.), Joe Biden (Del.) and Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Republican John McCain (Ariz.) all say they support payment limits, according to the article. But Biden, Dodd and McCain voted against payment caps in 2005, while Clinton and Obama voted for them.
The Senate may also take another shot at considering comprehensive energy legislation this week. The bill would boost the use of renewable fuels to 36 billion gallons, five times more than current output. A vote to invoke cloture and consider the House version failed last week, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated he may try again with a scaled-down package.
"The Senate leaders will now negotiate a new energy bill and look at taking out some of the more controversial provisions such as the renewable portfolio standard, which is the renewable electricity standard, and some of the renewable electricity tax provisions," AFBF's Anne Steckel said in a radio report on Monday. "We hope that we will have another vote this week on a smaller energy bill that will still include a renewable fuels standard and perhaps a smaller energy tax package."
In related news, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) on Monday said he would offer a similar renewable fuels standard as an amendment to the farm bill. Domenici said he would offer the amendment as a fallback in case the energy bill falters.