The Senate began its floor work on a 2013 farm bill this week, with three days of floor debate and votes on amendments interspersed with debate on topics including the federal budget and immigration.

On the floor Thursday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he, Senate agriculture leaders and other Senators were working to determine how quickly the bill will need to move through the floor and how to manage the more than 200 amendments that have reportedly been filed.

The Senate is scheduled to be out of session Friday and all next week for Memorial Day, returning on Monday, June 3.

Reid has indicated the chamber intends to move to immigration legislation soon after returning from recess, meaning votes for final passage of the farm bill could come as early as June 3 or 4. 

On Monday, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) supporting the Senate version of the farm bill, which is largely a formality, but also a positive indication for the bill’s success this year.

Meanwhile, the House is reportedly planning to begin its floor work on a 2013 farm bill in mid-June. No official timetable has been released by Agriculture Committee leadership though members of House Leadership have indicated a desire to take up the bill this summer.

Farm policy is currently operating under a one-year extension, which expires on Sept. 30. If both the Senate and House approve their bills in June, legislators should be on a good track to conference and finish the bill before that deadline. 

 

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