Both the House and Senate passed a two-week extension of the 2002 Farm Bill on Thursday. The extension will run until May 16, 2008. The President is expected to sign the extension although he has misgivings about the current state of the bill. Last Friday, negotiators reached a tentative agreement on funding the bill but are still resolving the policy. The bill's negotiators have tried to appease Bush in the last few days, agreeing on stricter limits for payments. However, the reforms are not as much as the President asked for.
Farm-state lawmakers have said they don't have the votes for more drastic cutbacks, mostly due to opposition from Southerners who represent cotton and rice farms, which are more expensive to run. Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., met Thursday with Bush to urge him to support the legislation. A spokeswoman said the meeting gave Chambliss "the opportunity to outline significant reforms" in the negotiators' current proposal.
Farm Bill Conference Committee Chair Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, called a meeting of all conference committee members Thursday evening to go through amendments and titles. However he says another meeting will be necessary next week after the Congressional Budget Office scores the title changes made earlier this week.