Senate approves massive farm bill

The Senate on Tuesday approved a massive farm and agriculture bill, marking off one of the remaining crucial items on its to-do list.  

Senators voted 87-13 on the legislation, which was unveiled on Monday night after months of closed-door negotiations. The bill now heads to the House. 

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The legislation authorizes agriculture assistance and nutrition programs for the next five years. The current farm bill lapsed on Sept. 30, but senators viewed the end of the year as their hard deadline, with numerous programs expiring this month.

"The 2018 Farm Bill is our opportunity to make the American food and agriculture systems work more efficiently. I’m pleased to say we have done just that in this conference report. ... I thank my counterparts in the Senate and House for coming to — and staying at — the table to reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement for rural America," Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsEleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid Pressure builds on Pompeo as impeachment inquiry charges ahead GOP lawmakers fear Trump becoming too consumed by impeachment fight MORE (R-Kan.), the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in a statement.

But the bill doesn't include the tougher work requirements for food stamps pushed for by House Republicans and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE, sparking backlash from conservatives. 

Heritage Action for America, a conservative outside group, urged lawmakers to oppose the bill on Tuesday and warned they would key-vote the measure.  

"Well designed work requirements for food stamp recipients are essential to reduce poverty, government dependence and to improve our labor force," the group said in a statement. 

But the provision, if it had been included, likely would have kept the bill from being able to win the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate. Democrats were vocal about their opposition to the changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, arguing the Senate-passed version did not include the revisions and it is detrimental to the safety net relied upon by low-income earners.

In a win for Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms Impeachment battle looms over must-pass defense bill 'Saturday Night Live' presents Trump impeachment hearings with 'pizzazz' of soap opera MORE (R-Ky.), the final farm bill also legalizes hemp as an agricultural commodity. 

"I used my very own hemp pen to sign the conference report, clearing the way for the House and Senate to pass legislation and send it to the president's desk. I'm proud that the bill includes my provision to legalize the production of industrial hemp. It's a victory for farmers and consumers throughout our country," he said.