Senate approves legislation to keep government running

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2013 - The Senate approved legislation (H.J.Res.59) today, on a party-line 54-44 vote, to avert an Oct. 1 government shutdown and keep funding for federal departments, including USDA and FDA, at FY 2013 levels until mid-November.

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The bill now goes back to the House for its expected consideration on Saturday. The future for the legislation is unclear after the Senate also approved an amendment stripping out House language to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. That vote also fell straight along party lines at 54-44.

All 52 Democrats and two Independents, who caucus with the Democrats, voted for the amendment and final passage. Forty-four Republicans voted against the amendment and final passage. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, did not vote.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said he was disappointed that Senate Democrats chose to stand with their party rather than “defend middle-class families, workers, and employers who are being crushed by Obamacare.”

“Health care premiums continue to increase, more and more Americans are losing their health care, and businesses are cutting hours or not hiring-hitting lower-income and middle-class families the hardest,” Thune said.

While a shutdown would not directly affect the core mission of USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) as inspectors would remain on the job, the workload within other FSIS support functions, such as administrative appeals and labeling, could be impacted. Enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program would stop. In addition, a shutdown could halt funding for the Foreign Agricultural Service's Foreign Market Development Program and the Market Access Program.

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