UPDATE — 3:25 p.m. ET: The U.S. Senate voted 68 to 32 to pass the bill. It now goes to the president’s desk for his signature.
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday will vote on whether or not to pass a massive bipartisan farm bill that is set to cost nearly a trillion dollars over the next 10 years.
The 949-page bill costing $956.4 billion, which averages to just over a billion per page, will mostly pay for the federal food stamp program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and policies intended to help the less fortunate, according to CBS News. If passed, President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law.
The food stamp program has reportedly expanded from $20 billion to $80 billion in the past decade, with one quarter of kids living in homes that receive the benefits, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The remainder of the bill contains billions for subsidies, research money, marketing programs and a new tax on Christmas trees, CBS reported.
Nevertheless, members of the Senate say the bill will save $16.6 billion over next decade by eliminating direct payments and cutting $8.5 billion from the food stamp program.
[sharequote align=”center”]”This is a new kind of farm bill designed to meet new challenges of a changing world.”[/sharequote]
“This is a new kind of farm bill designed to meet new challenges of a changing world,” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), said on the Senate floor, according to Reuters. “We are also making major reforms, eliminating unnecessary, and unjustified programs to cut government spending and to increase the integrity of farm programs.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said he expects the bill to pass.
“I’m quite certain that my very conservative friends and my very liberal friends won’t be happy with the final product,” Lucas told The Washington Post. “Whether you want to define that as good legislating or a sign of the times, the folks with the hard perspective on both sides will not be pleased.”
Still, the bill has been a target for watchdog groups who disagree with some of the bill’s contents. One group, the confederation of state Public Interest Research Groups, contends the legislation favors special interests.
“At a time of supposed fiscal caution, this bill would put taxpayers on the hook for another five years of billion-dollar handouts to huge, profitable agribusiness,” PIRG’s Dan Smith told CBS News. “These subsidies are pure and simple a boon for special interests, at the expense of average taxpayers.”
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