Congress gives itself a do-over

How much money are we paying these people?

Congress gave President George W. Bush an incomplete version of the $289 billion farm bill, a mistake that would erase his veto and may require lawmakers to pass the bill again, lawmakers and congressional aides said on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer said “a likely option” was to pass a new version of the farm bill on Thursday. Two Republicans said Congress may have to repeat the entire process of sending the five-year bill to the president. A final decision was expected to be reached overnight.

While sorting out the farm bill, Congress may need another stopgap bill to keep Agriculture Department programs running. The latest short-term extension expires on Friday. Congress is scheduled to recess on Thursday for the Memorial Day holiday.

“It looks like it may be back to square one for them,” said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel, who suggested Congress could clean up the “bloated bill” that it originally passed. “We haven’t found a precedent for a congressional blunder of this magnitude.”



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