Senate votes to send omnibus spending bill to Obama

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2014 - The Senate today gave final congressional approval to a $1 trillion omnibus spending package that would fund the federal government, including USDA and FDA, through fiscal 2014.

“We're a little late,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said before the vote, adding, “but we got the job done.”

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The legislation (H.R. 3547) was approved 72-26. The legislation cleared the House yesterday with bipartisan support and now goes to the White House for President Obama's expected signature.

The package would fund 12 departments - giving USDA and FDA a combined increase of $350 million for a total of $20.9 billion in discretionary spending. Several agencies would receive slight increases, or funding levels close to FY 2013.

A list of proposed agency funding levels can be viewed here.

While the legislation would provide funding for USDA operations, it also touches upon various agricultural policy issues.

The legislation recommends, but does not require, that the USDA delay finalizing country-of-origin meat labeling rules until after the World Trade Organization issues a final decision on the program. It also seeks to stop the Grain Inspection, Stockyards and Packers Administration from finalizing rules dealing with contracts in the livestock and poultry sector.

The bill also includes a provision to prohibit funding from being used for USDA inspections of U.S. horse slaughter facilities. A similar ban was in place from 2005 to 2011. Further, the legislation includes a provision, which aims to clarify a prohibition on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from regulating farms with fewer than 10 employees.

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