Farm Bill Talks Turn Contentious

For those wondering why Congress can't get a farm bill passed, the Associated Press has a must-read story Saturday.

Reasons for the bill impasse include election-year politics, a smaller discretionary budget and a president in his last year in office, Mary Clare Jalonick writes. And that has led to some acrimonious negotiations.

Read this snippet:
Negotiators face several obstacles. The Democratic chairmen of the House and Senate agriculture committees, Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson and Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, have lost control of the legislation as tax packages were added to both bills to help pay for them and win votes.

That has brought into the mix House Ways and Means Committee chairman Charlie Rangel, who represents few farmers in his New York City district. He and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., are charged with finding an extra $10 billion for the bill but have agreed on very little.

At a farm bill meeting in Rangel's office Thursday, shouting could be heard behind closed doors. Several senators, including Baucus, left angrily.

"Let's just say it wasn't good," Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said afterward.