House approves FY 2014 budget bill as Senate continues debate

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2013 - The House approved today, with a 221-207 party-line vote, its fiscal year 2014 budget bill (H.Con.Res. 25) that aims to reduce deficits by $4.6 trillion over the next 10 years by making major cuts to many domestic programs.

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Meanwhile, the Senate slowly trudged through debate on its FY 2014 budget plan (S.Con.Res. 8) seeks to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion in 10 years and provide a long-term spending guideline for the USDA.

In the House, 221 Republicans supported the bill. Opposing the bill were 197 Democrats and 10 Republicans.

“We are offering a responsible, balanced budget,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Bob Ryan, R-Wis. “It recognizes that if we can't get a handle on our out-of-control debt, we will lose control of our future. We cut wasteful spending and balance the budget.”

In the Senate, Senate Budget Committee Patty Murray, D-Wash., said her budget calls for $1 trillion in additional tax revenues, $100 billion in new infrastructure and jobs spending and modest cuts to health care programs.

“Our budget is built on three principles: number one, we need to protect our fragile economic recovery, create jobs, and invest in long-term growth,” Murray said. “Number two, we need to tackle our deficit and debt fairly and responsibly.  And number three, we need to keep the promises we've made as a nation to our seniors, our families, and our communities.”

Republicans strongly oppose the bill, mainly because of proposed tax increases and “runaway” spending.

At least 70 amendments have been offered to the bill, and the Senate is expected Friday to hold a “vote-a-rama,” in which senators vote on a large number of consecutively with little debate.

Topics of most of the amendments remain a mystery, but the ones that have been discussed today on the floor deal largely with the tax code, health care and abortions.

So far, one agriculture-related amendment has been identified.

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., intends to offer an amendment that would instruct the Senate Agriculture Committee to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from conducting aerial surveillance to inspect or to record images of agricultural operations as part of the upcoming reauthorization of the farm bill. “The amendment recognizes the importance of the Clean Water Act and does not affect the use of traditional on-site inspections to ensure compliance with environmental regulations,” a Johanns aide said.


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