The Senate returns to Washington Tuesday following a long break. The House resumed last week. During the break, staffers have been working on resolving some of the simple issues between the House and Senate versions of the farm bill, but the more complex and controversial issues remain to be dealt with. Chief among the issues that need to be worked out is funding for the new farm bill. The House and Senate both funded their versions in different ways and the White House it appears doesn't like either method.
Members of the House-Senate conference committee are expected to be named this week. However, with many items on the agenda, it's unclear just how soon they'll be able to get down to brass tacks concerning the farm bill. The Senate Ag Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Secretary of Agriculture nominee Ed Schafer on Thursday, the State of the Union is next week on Jan. 28 and both parties in the House of Representatives are holding retreats during the next two weeks. So it may be February before any substantial work is done on the farm bill.