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Immigration, Farm Bills Test Senators’ Juggling Skills

Sens. Patrick J. Leahy, Charles E. Grassley, Amy Klobuchar and their staffs will be among the busiest folks anywhere around the Senate next week. There’s so much going on in their jurisdiction, they might want body doubles.

Leahy, a Democrat, and Grassley, a Republican, are their parties’ respective leaders on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is in the midst of a lengthy markup of a comprehensive immigration overhaul drafted by the “gang of eight” senators.

But, as Grassley pointed out Thursday, the two wear many other hats, including as senior members of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry panel. That committee has a major markup of the farm bill next week as well.

“Both you and I and maybe other people on this committee are members of the Agriculture Committee and we are having markup on [the] agriculture bill next  — week, and it’s not going to take as long as this bill takes, but it might take a good day or something, and I’d like to be able to participate in that,” Grassley said.

Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, noted that she also serves on both committees.

Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow released her chairman’s mark of the once-every-five-year farm policy measure Thursday afternoon. It’s a 1,102-page bill that puts the 844-page immigration draft to shame.

Leahy said senators will strike the right balance, probably going back and forth between hearing rooms as issues arise. Proxy voting is usually allowed in Senate committees, so Leahy, Grassley and Klobuchar need not literally be in two places at once.

“We’ll stand in recess as I said until 10 o’clock on Tuesday and we’ll go forward. I would hope that we can continue to take this title by title. I’m also on the Senate Agriculture Committee,” Leahy said. “In fact, I’m the most senior member of that committee, and I have a number of issues there. We’re just going to figure out how to juggle, as we always do.”

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