Republicans such as Sen. John McCain are skeptical of the pay equity bill, which they believe is a Democratic effort to curry favor with women ahead of the November elections.
The farm bill is expected to be the target of a massive number of amendments, and leaders will have to cull them down to a manageable number to ensure that it passes in relatively short order.
“We are still talking with Members on my side of the aisle,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, ranking member of the Agriculture Committee. “We are sitting down and discussing any problems they may have. ... There are always amendments to the farm bill.”
The Kansas Republican said: “Usually a farm bill takes two weeks [on the floor.] We hope to get it done in a week.”
Beyond the farm bill, both sides hope to pass a measure to avert the doubling of interest rates on student loans, but differences persist on how to pay for the measure.
Democrats want to pay for the $6 billion cost of preventing the rise in interest rates by eliminating a corporate tax provision that allows some of the highest income earners to pay less than they would otherwise in Social Security and Medicare taxes.
Senate Republicans prefer the offset used in the bill passed by the House last month, which would eliminate what GOP critics call a “slush fund” in the 2010 health care overhaul that covers prevention and public health.
But both options were defeated by the Senate on Thursday, when they failed to win the 60 votes needed to pass.
“We expect to pass that next work period,” the Senate Democratic aide said.
But it is unclear whether a compromise can be agreed to before hitting the July 1 deadline when current law expires and the interest rate on Stafford loans jumps to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent.
Other possible candidates for action in June include a Democratic small-business tax cut bill, cybersecurity measure and an appropriations bill.
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