Earlier today it looked like Democratic and Republican leadership were close to an agreement on amendments that would allow debate on the farm bill to go forward. Just now though, Senator Harkin returned to the Senate floor and said that there is still no agreement.
Senator Harkin must have mentioned the possibility of an extension of the current farm bill ten times in as many minutes. Both Senator Harkin and Senator Reid noted on the floor today that if real debate does not begin this week, the farm bill is unlikely to be completed before the Senate adjourns for the year.
Late Update: You might just want to quit listening to everything we say on this blog about timing of the farm bill debate in the Senate (if you look back at posts from a week ago, you'd think we surely would be done with this whole racket by now). Or maybe we should quit listening to everything we're hearing come out of D.C.
At any rate, about an hour after I posted this original post outlining Senator Harkin's somewhat discouraging statements, Senator Chambliss came to the floor to speak. He told a bit of a different story. Chambliss (R-GA) is the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Senator Chambliss came to the floor and said he fully expected there would be an agreement very soon, and he was hopeful that debate could begin soon.
Then about an hour later Chambliss returned and announced that there is a list of agreed to amendments, and that debate should move forward in the morning. He also indicated that Dorgan-Grassley would be first up in the morning.
Reid also spoke. He noted that the list of amendments agreed to includes a lot of amendments not exactly related to the farm bill. Furthermore, it seems that the agreement doesn't really set an overall time limit, and maybe not even a time limit on each amendment.
So, it looks like debate will proceed in the morning. There is still plenty of chance for things to get bogged down again though.