Senate passes farm bill in 66-27 vote

The Senate on Monday approved a five-year farm bill in a 66-27 vote.

More than 15 Republicans joined most Democrats in supporting the bill, which would cut $24 billion from farm spending over 10 years, including a $4 billion reduction to food stamps. Democratic Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseAnti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP Overnight Energy: SEC begins probing Exxon Senate Dems unveil new public option push for ObamaCare MORE (R.I.) and Jack ReedJack ReedDemocrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal Senators already eyeing changes to 9/11 bill after veto override Overnight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas MORE (R.I.) were the only Democrats who voted against the bill.

Before the Senate vote, Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowMichigan Dems highlight Flint with unanimous opposition to CR How Congress averted shutdown Senate passes funding bill to avoid shutdown MORE (D-Mich.) touted her bill as supporting U.S. jobs while also reducing the deficit.

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“As we vote for this bill today, we support 16 million people who depend on agriculture for their jobs,” Stabenow said. “We are providing $24 billion in deficit reduction.”

The Senate passed a similar bill last year, but it was never enacted as the House failed to take up farm legislation.

Stabenow said she hopes that House leaders will allow a floor vote on a farm bill this year.

“Hopefully the House this time will complete this work and we’ll have an opportunity to go to conference,” Stabenow said. “The House, in my opinion, walked away from rural America last year.”

The House is working on a rival, $940 billion farm bill that cuts spending by $39.7 billion over 10 years, with $20.5 billion of the cuts coming food stamps. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) crafted the bill, which will likely get a floor vote later this month.

Democrats are firmly against the food stamp cuts in the House farm bill, and the differences between the two versions might be difficult to bridge in a conference committee.

The current farm bill expires Sept. 30, and lawmakers hope to reach agreement on a new bill before the August recess. 

“[The Senate version] is a bill that will send the message to the American people that we need to provide a certainty once and for all and do things in a timely fashion,” Sen. Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal Wells Fargo board to decide on executive clawbacks MORE (D-N.D.) said Monday.

The White House supports the Senate farm bill, S. 954, which shifts farm subsidies away from direct payments to farmers and toward expanded crop insurance. The bill also ties crop insurance subsidies to compliance of environmental standards.

The Senate considered several amendments to the bill. The final amendment passed on a 48-38 vote Monday, ahead of final passage. Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyOvernight Tech: TV box plan faces crucial vote | Trump transition team to meet tech groups | Growing scrutiny of Yahoo security Leahy wants Judiciary hearing on Yahoo Overnight Cybersecurity: FBI probes possible hack of Dems' phones | Trump's '400-pound hacker' | Pressure builds on Yahoo | Poll trolls run wild MORE (D-Vt.) introduced the measure, which would set up a five-year pilot program for high-speed Internet projects in rural areas. He said the Internet is no longer “a luxury but a necessity” for all communities.

The Senate passed an amendment before the Memorial Day recess that reduces crop insurance subsidies by 15 percent for those making more than $750,000 per year. The amendment passed despite the opposition of Stabenow and ranking member Thad CochranThad CochranMomentum builds for Clyburn poverty plan 'Hardball' Pentagon memo creates firestorm Insiders dominate year of the outsider MORE (R-Miss.). The House draft farm bill does not have such a limitation.