Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid late Tuesday called for a cloture vote on the Senate Farm Bill, effectively introducing means to an end for nearly two weeks of amendment voting.
As a result of the cloture vote, the filing deadline for first degree amendments to the Farm Bill is 12 p.m. Wednesday, while the filing deadline for second-degree amendments is 8:45 a.m. on Thursday.
A roll call vote regarding the cloture motion is expected Thursday. If the vote meets the 60-vote threshold, a final vote on the full bill could be taken Monday.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ag committee chairwoman, has reportedly been trying to reach a deal with lawmakers to limit the number of additional amendments on the Farm Bill, though no deal has yet surfaced.
Stabenow said Tuesday morning that the bill already covers more than 70 amendments that were added during last year's floor sessions, though some lawmakers are set on more cuts to crop insurance.
Political news outlets report that the amendments being discussed involve deeper cuts to premium subsidies and attempts to renegotiate reinsurance agreements with crop insurance companies, though none have been officially introduced.
Last week, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., was successful in passing his amendment to limit crop insurance premium subsidies for farmers with an adjusted gross income of more than $750,000.
Farm groups are eager for a final vote on the legislation, which they have been waiting for for nearly two years.
"Farmers have now been waiting two years to know the details of the federal dairy safety net," 22 dairy organizations said in a letter Wednesday. "They need this information to make business decisions. Along with the rest of American agriculture, milk producers nationwide urge the Senate—in the strongest possible terms—to vote for cloture on the farm bill Thursday."
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson also issued a plea to end debate.
"It is critical that the bill continues to move through the Senate, and I urge the U.S. House of Representatives to follow suit very soon in order to have a bill signed into law prior to the Sept. 30 expiration of the current bill," he said in a statement late Tuesday.
Sen. Stabenow, too, reminded lawmakers Tuesday that the time is now to pass a bill.
"Farmers and ranchers have to do their job whether they feel like it or not," Stabenow said, stressing the Sept. 30 deadline to get the bill to conference and on the President's desk.
Sen. Reid's cloture motion comes as Senate leadership is looking forward to beginning debate on immigration reform, legislation that may also have a big impact on agriculture.
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