Congress returned to work last week and the first order of business for the Senate was the farm bill. But the process of working through the proposed amendments got bogged down on Tuesday when Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., blocked every Republican amendment offered.
Landrieu was insisting that the Senate first vote on her proposed amendment to freeze current flood insurance rates, an amendment proposed for the Water Resources Development Bill that was blocked by Republicans.
The Senate was inactive on Wednesday but held a cloture vote on Thursday morning.
A final vote on the farm bill is expected in the Senate on Monday evening.
The House will focus attention on the farm bill and 4 separate appropriations bills this month according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. Cantor did not give a specific date for farm bill consideration, but most people expect debate to begin the week of June 17.
And once the bill reaches the floor of the House there could be more than 300 amendments proposed!
Approval by the full House is still far from a sure thing.
"This might be the last farm bill,” said House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., to a startled audience this week.
He said crop insurance has permanent authorization, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has permanent authorization and some major conservation programs have permanent authorization. Funding for these programs still has to be authorized, but the programs themselves remain in effect.
Peterson also says the House needs to get the new farm bill passed before the August break because of his view it would be very difficult to pass a farm bill once campaigns kick in gear for the 2014 election year.