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Senate Passes Farm Bill

The Senate voted, 77 to 15, Thursday evening to approve a new farm package that contains the accidentally omitted trade section, which created chaos before the Memorial Day recess.

But the measure will likely end up back at lawmakers’ doorsteps for second veto override votes because of President Bush’s objections.

Senate Democratic aides said they chose to bring forward a new bill rather than a stand-alone measure containing solely the section mistakenly eliminated in order to prevent opening up the measure to political attacks and partisan amendments.

Senate Agriculture Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) emphasized to Senators that nothing had changed from the original farm conference report.

“It’s the same exact bill,” Harkin said on the Senate floor, reminding Senators that there should be no problem with it since the original conference report received 81 votes.

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) addressed concerns that the bill might violate pay-as-you-go budget rules. “The farm bill is fully PAYGO compliant,” Conrad stated. “This legislation has no additional cost.”

In bipartisan votes the last week of May, the House and Senate overrode a presidential veto of the conference report. But confusion broke out after it was discovered that the enrolling clerk accidentally omitted Title III of the bill dealing with international trade after it was passed by both chambers, but before it was sent to the president.

Once Members recognized that the trade section had been removed, the House devolved into chaos, with Republicans crying foul and alleging that the move could violate the Constitution.

The House voted, 306 to 110, on May 22 to approve a new farm bill with the trade section included. The Senate did not act until Thursday.

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