Three weeks ago, the Senate fell five votes short of the 60 needed to limit debate on the Farm Bill. Arguments and negotiations about the number of amendments have dominated since then, with no real progress. So Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., scheduled another vote to invoke cloture to move the bill forward. However; a deal was reached to break the gridlock Thursday night. The agreement gives both parties 20 amendments to the bill.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is still optimistic that a bill can be passed before the Senate adjourns for the holiday break. Harkin's counterpart in the House, Representative Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has tried to stay positive but says the current situation doesn't look good.
"At this point I don't see anyway that they are going to get done before we leave for Christmas," Peterson says. "With all the other work that they've got to do on appropriations, the Energy Bill, the Iraq war issue, and so forth, I don't see anyway they're going to have enough time to to deal with the Farm Bill with 20 amendments on each side."