Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee has been talking to Administration officials, House and Senate leadership to work out compromises on some of the issues of the Farm Bill. This week members of the conference committee from the Senate were named and Harkin has been discussing different ideas with them.
"Now that we've named conferees it should allow us to accelerate discussions and negotiations and get a final bill," Harkin says. "Once the House names conferees we can begin formal meetings at the member level."
Harkin says progress is being made in the Senate as they seek compromises, which he says makes it unfortunate that the President continues to dig in his heels, and state his intentions to veto the Farm Bill.
"This is not constructive or helpful and stands in stark contrast to the bipartisan spirit that allowed this bill to pass the Senate with one of the largest majorities ever for a farm bill," Harkin says. "We need him as a partner so we can produce a Farm Bill good for the country."
President Bush has taken a hard line on raising taxes to fund the Farm Bill, but Harkin says what the Administration considers tax raises is not true.
"Ending tax abuses to free up money, closing loopholes to free up money is not raising taxes. That is just responsible budgeting," Harkin says. "As a matter of fact in his budget he just sent down he proposes to close a number of loopholes, so why is he so opposed to what we are doing."
Harkin says he hopes the President will be more flexible, but they will press ahead, get a bill to send him and hope he'll sign it. However he says only time will tell and they will wait and see.