Senate overcomes partisanship on bills

June 21, 2012 at 9:18 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 21 (UPI) -- The farm bill is expected to win approval in the U.S. Senate in the latest sign the body may be overcoming partisanship to pass legislation, observers say.

A vote on the nearly $1 trillion farm bill this week would mark the second vote for major legislation in the divided Senate in the past three months, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

In March, 74 senators, a majority of Democrats and Republicans, supported a measure to continue the program that pays for the federal highway and bridge construction program.

"It's a different Senate than it was three months ago. People are working together," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

The Post noted the highway and farm bills, along with changes to the Postal Service and Food and Drug Administration, had gone through the "regular order," meaning a committee drafted a bill over several months, sent it to the Senate and after deliberations, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., agreed to allow a few dozen amendments.

Republicans supported the final bills because they were allowed to offer amendments. When Reid blocks their ability to amend bills, Republicans will often filibuster legislation.

In the Republican-controlled House, measures still must overcome considerable partisanship. But some say the recent bipartisan steps could help set the stage for more cooperation later.

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