WASHINGTON – Senators cleared a major hurdle in negotiations on a multibillion-dollar farm bill Thursday, agreeing to pare down a list of hundreds of proposed amendments.
Democrats and Republicans have been arguing for weeks over procedural issues, holding up the five-year bill that would extend and expand crop and dairy subsidies along with popular nutrition aid programs, including food stamps.
The agreement, which allows each party to offer 20 amendments, could allow the Senate to pass the legislation before the end of the year. The House passed its version in July.
“It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’re going to finish the farm bill before we leave unless something untoward happens,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday evening.
Though politically popular, the $286 billion bill stalled for a month in the dispute between the parties. Senators from both parties had offered hundreds of amendments, including several from Republicans dealing with controversial tax and immigration issues.