Farm bill limbo

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Congress returned from its Memorial Day recess last week and tied up loss ends on the farm bill which required another full vote on a new, identical bill, after the President vetoed a version that did not include the trade title.

Before leaving for the recess the House by a vote of 306 to 110 had approved a new, complete version of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (H.R. 6124). Thursday afternoon the Senate again overwhelmingly approved the measure (77-15), setting up another easy veto override after the President's anticipated veto on what should have been sent to the President the first round.

The House and Senate were forced to repass the conference report under a new bill number and title after a clerical error left out the trade title of the original text sent to the President before Memorial Day Recess. Bush vetoed the bill before the error was discovered but, following late 1800s case law, both chambers overrode his veto, making law of the 14 of 15 titles that made it through the process.

In order to ensure the entire bill eventually becomes law and is not subject to legal challenge, the House initiated a process of taking up the entire bill once again.

If President Bush chooses, he could hold the bill for 10 days, after which it becomes law if Congress remains in session. Or he could veto the bill once again, and the chambers would again have to vote for an override.


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