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The Senate on Tuesday began plowing through 73 amendments to a $500-billion bill that will set farm policy and fund the food-stamp program over the next five years. One of its first votes was to reject a proposal to trim food-stamp spending.

The farm bill, one of the last major pieces of legislation that could clear Congress before the election, carries out major changes to the federal safety net for farmers, replacing their direct payments, even when they don’t plant crops, with greater emphasis on crop insurance and a new program to protect farmers from revenue losses.

The Senate is expected to vote on all the amendments and pass the bill by the end of the week. It then goes to the House, where it could run into resistance from fiscal conservatives.

CAMPAIGN

Romney won’t condemn hecklers at Obama stops

Mitt Romney has declined to call on his supporters to stop heckling President Obama’s campaign.

He told Fox News Radio on Tuesday that he doesn’t believe in “unilateral disarmament” but said it would “be a nice thing” if both sides would stop yelling at each other during campaign events.

Over the weekend, Obama adviser David Axelrod condemned anti-Romney heckling during the Republican candidate’s bus tour, which ends Tuesday in Michigan.

Mr. Romney was asked if he also would condemn heckling during Obama events. He declined.

Responding to Mr. Romney later Tuesday, the Obama campaign said it had sent a strong message to its supporters that the campaign should be about an open exchange of ideas, not drowning out the other side by heckling and crashing events.

CONGRESS

House approves waiver of border environmental laws

The Republican-controlled House on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow the Border Patrol to circumvent more than a dozen environmental laws on all federally managed lands within 100 miles of the borders with Mexico and Canada.

Supporters said the measure is needed to give border agents unfettered access to rugged lands now controlled by the Interior Department and Forest Service. Laws such as the Wilderness Act and Endangered Species Act often prevent agents from driving vehicles on huge swaths of land, leaving it to wildlife, illegal immigrants and smugglers who can walk through the territory undisturbed, they said.

The bill was approved 232-188.

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