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Lawmakers 'optimstic' about farm bill veto override votes

Agriculture.com Staff 05/08/2008 @ 9:55am

Whether the president will sign the farm bill making its way through Congress remains in question. But now, lawmakers are looking ahead to what hopefully is a clearer path toward new farm legislation, even with veto threats still echoing through Congress from the other side of Capitol Hill.

"I know that Congressman Goodlatte had a personal meeting with the president yesterday morning. The president did not use the word veto. He said he didn't like it, but that's all," Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) said Thursday morning. "Goodlatte quoted him as saying nothing about vetoing the bill, and he said that he would not make it an issue. The president said the House members need to vote their districts on this."

This may be a sign, Harkin added, that if a veto comes, it won't be an issue of party. But in the end, this may not matter if a veto override majority is in place, as he feels it is in the Senate.

"The president is sending a signal that if we pass this -- and he understands it will pass overwhelmingly -- if he does veto it, he's not going to make it a party issue with House members," Harkin said. "In the Senate, we will have veto override majority.

"I believe we have met the White House more than halfway, and I hope the White House does the same."

In the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD) said Thursday morning that, while the details of the final agreement have yet to be revealed to the full House, lawmakers there are moving ahead with preparations for what will hopefully be a successful stab at gathering enough votes for an override majority.

"Meetings are being held today to coordinate that strategy and to answer questions from members who haven't been as close to the process about the reforms in the bill, its spending, safety net, conservation, energy and nutrition titles," Herseth-Sandlin said Thursday. "In light of the commitment of leadership on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers, at the end of the day, I'm optimistic. In the event of a veto, we will be doing all we can to ensure we have a two-thirds majority to override, and I'm optimistic we can do that."

Whether the president will sign the farm bill making its way through Congress remains in question. But now, lawmakers are looking ahead to what hopefully is a clearer path toward new farm legislation, even with veto threats still echoing through Congress from the other side of Capitol Hill.

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