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Title III Likely to Be Extended Until After Recess

Ready to put the farm bill snafu behind them, House leaders are leaning toward passing a bill Thursday evening that would extend current Title III laws and put the issue to bed until after the Memorial Day recess.

The House and Senate have been scrambling after it was discovered Wednesday that an enrolling error deleted Title III in the version of the farm bill vetoed by President Bush.

However, the vetoed bill, which contains 14 of the 15 sections of the farm bill originally passed by Congress, is now law, according to House Democratic aides.

This fact is backed up by a Supreme Court case and by Congressional Parliamentarians, aides said, and it also eliminates any reason for concern about current farm laws expiring on Friday.

The only remaining question is whether Title III needs an extension before Congress leaves town. Democratic leaders and constitutional experts “are working on that right now,” according to a leadership aide.

There will either be no action needed on Title III or “there may be an extension tonight, if it is determined that one is needed,” said the aide, who clarified that an earlier proposal to introduce new Title III legislation is off the table.

Earlier Thursday, the House passed a new — and complete — farm bill, which now awaits Senate action after the Memorial Day recess. If passed in the Senate, the bill would go to the president again, for a second veto, and then come back to Congress for a second veto override. That way, all 15 sections of the farm bill ultimately would be permanently enacted.

After the Senate overrode the incomplete farm bill Thursday morning, Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) suggested that the Senate would take up the missing Title III language after it returns to work in June.

Harkin said he had spoken with officials at the Agriculture Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, and that they could get by in the interim before Title III is reauthorized.

“We’ll deal with that at some other point, which shouldn’t be a problem,” Harkin said.

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