WASHINGTON – Congress passed a one-week extension of current farm law Thursday, defying President Bush by trying to find agreement on a new bill.
As negotiations on a farm bill have stumbled, Bush has asked the House and Senate to extend the law for a year or longer. He says the new legislation is too expensive and would not do enough to cut subsidy payments to wealthy farmers in a time of record crop prices.
Farm legislation passed by the House and Senate last year would cost roughly $280 billion over five years, with around two-thirds of the cost going to food stamps and other nutrition programs. Negotiators have been arguing for months over how to pay for the bill and have still not agreed.
The one-week extension passed by voice vote in the House and Senate.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said farm-state lawmakers are “very close” to a deal on the bill but will not be able to finish all of the paperwork by May 2, when current law would expire under the new extension.
Harkin originally asked for a two-week extension but Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, objected, saying lawmakers have taken too long to write the legislation.
Congress has now extended the law two times in as many weeks. This would be the fifth extension since the law originally expired in September.
In a statement Tuesday, Bush called for a one-year extension and said proposals being discussed by negotiators would “would fail several important tests that I have set forth.” He did not say whether he would sign another extension.
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