The bill also requires OMB and Pentagon to detail how agencies will implement deep cuts.
WASHINGTON - The Senate has agreed to require the Office of Management and Budget and the Pentagon to detail how federal agencies will implement a deep automatic budget cut set to take effect in January, as Congress begins to brace for dramatic reductions that are scheduled to occur as a result of last summer's deal to raise the debt ceiling.
The request came in an amendment to the nearly $1 trillion farm bill and was a compromise between Republicans -- who had wanted to hear more about defense cuts -- and Democrats, who asked for details about domestic reductions as well. The goal was to lay out the damage that the automatic cuts would cause, compelling a deal to avert them.
The Senate, 64-35, approved the farm bill Thursday. The five-year measure would cut about $23.6 billion in subsidies and other expenditures in the next decade, a historically significant sum for the usually bloated piece of legislation. The bill slashes tens of billions of dollars in direct subsidies to farmers and in the federal food stamp program, but falls short of cuts sought by President Obama and House Republicans. But senators said that the bill's lower price tag -- and weeks of bipartisan negotiations -- should bode well for trickier negotiations later over taxes and spending.
Klobuchar, a member of the Agriculture Committee, helped get provisions in the bill that make crop insurance more affordable for beginning farmers and ranchers. She pushed for studies of disaster coverage for pork and poultry farmers and helped tweak rules to allow cattle to graze on land held in conservation status.
The bill also included a provision that Franken introduced to reauthorize a program that helps agriculture producers and businesses in rural areas invest in renewable energy. Franken and Klobuchar also helped vote down proposals to phase out or significantly change the sugar price support program. It helps Minnesota farmers, who lead the nation in sugar beet production, by setting prices and production quotas, limiting imports and guaranteeing loans to sugar refiners.
What's next: The House
The farm bill moves next to the House, where Republicans are expected to propose deeper cuts. Rep. Collin Peterson, R-Minn., the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee expressed hope that the House will offer its version before the August recess. "It is crucial that we finish the farm bill before the current bill expires in September," he said.
Washington Bureau correspondent Jim Spencer contributed to this report.