Senate Approves Farm Bill by Veto-Proof Margin

Posted May 15, 2008 at 12:03pm

One day after the House overwhelmingly supported the farm bill, the Senate approved it by a solid majority that would override President Bush’s veto if it happens as warned.

The Senate voted, 81-15, to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for farmers, nutritional programs, and for some social programs, such as food stamps.

The farm package also contains provisions that would fund programs for new biofuels derived from cellulosic ethanol. Corn-based ethanol has been criticized lately for driving up food prices to untenable levels.

Right before the vote, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) praised Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) for negotiating a deal that bridged the partisan strife between the two parties. Reid said the farm bill sends a message that Congress can act and move legislation to strengthen the farming industry.

After losses in special elections and record low approval ratings for the president, Senate Republicans broke ranks with their party to join with Democrats. Plus, many GOP lawmakers hail from rural states that would greatly benefit from the agriculture subsidies, providing an extra incentive for them to vote for the farm bill.