Senators Set for Ag Disaster Battle

The ag disaster aid package's sponsor, Sen. Kent. Conrad, D-N.D., will face the opposition of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who says he will try to block the bill.

The agricultural disaster aid package meant to aid farmers who have lost money from natural disasters, including drought, is scheduled to go to a vote in the Senate today, but if Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., gets his way, it won't even be considered.

Coburn says he will attempt to block the $4.5 billion aid package because he thinks it covers producers who don't need help and is too large.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., has already trimmed the bill and says it is supposed to cover two years of disasters, including floods, drought, and fires.

"This is not some outsized disaster assistance legislation; it is bare bones," he says. Conrad says 5% to 10% of farmers and ranchers in his home state may go out of business if they don't receive aid.

Conrad will probably attempt to attach the aid package as an amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill. If Coburn can't execute a procedural move to block the package, he says he will try to cut other parts of the bill.

In the House, Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., is supporting a $3.3 billion aid package.

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