The Senate overwhelmingly gave the 2012 farm bill a procedural victory this week, agreeing to move to debate on the five-year legislation. Senators voted 90-8 to proceed to the bill, well beyond the 60 votes needed to proceed.  The vote clears the way for deliberations and possibly an additional procedural vote the week of June 11 that would limit debate and move the bill closer to a vote in the chamber.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has predicted that S. 3240 will involve two to three weeks of debate on the floor.  More than 70 amendments were filed and more are expected to come.  Senate leadership has made no announcement about which amendments would be considered on the floor–a subject of negotiation between Democratic and Republican leaders.  The bill cuts spending on agriculture programs by $23.6 billion over a decade and may be the only legislation Congress passes in 2012 that cuts federal spending. Debate will start in the Senate early next week.