Washington Week Ahead: Government funding entangled in immigration debate

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2014 - Lawmakers return from their Thanksgiving break with lots of unfinished business before the 113th Congress goes out of business with the close of the current lame-duck session.

Topping the list is legislation to keep the government funded beyond Dec. 11 when the current short-term spending bill expires. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said he wants the chamber to conclude the lame-duck session by that date.

But meeting that deadline may be difficult because keeping the government afloat is tied up with other issues, namely how the Republicans will respond to President Obama's executive actions on immigration, which played a role in blowing up a compromise that was brewing last week on congressional plans to revive tax breaks that expired late last year.

Among the so-called tax extenders is one near and dear to agriculture - the Section 179 measure - which allowed small businesses, including farms, to write off up to $500,000 of capital purchases immediately instead of over a 10-year period. According to a schedule prepared by McCarthy's office, tax extender legislation could be considered this week.

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House Republicans are meeting Tuesday to discuss how to move forward. Options include a standalone spending bill that would avoid a government shutdown for the entire fiscal year, a series of short-term funding bills, or a measure designed to stop funding for Obama's immigration plans and invite a presidential veto.

Here's a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere:

Monday, Dec. 1

2 p.m. The House meets for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's schedule indicates it's possible legislation related to expired tax provisions will be considered this week. Legislation to be considered under suspension of the rules includes: H.R. 5471 - To amend the Commodity Exchange Act and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to specify how clearing requirements apply to certain affiliate transactions; and H.R. 5714 - Pest Management Records Modernization Act.

Tuesday, Dec. 2

9 a.m. House Committee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing on the impact of the President's executive action on border security. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is scheduled to testify. 311 Cannon.

9:30 a.m. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife holds a hearing titled, “Innovation and the Utilities of the Future: How Local Water Treatment Facilities are Leading the Way to Better Manage Wastewater and Water Supplies.” 406 Dirksen.

9:30 a.m. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions meets in executive session to consider the nomination of Lauren McGarity McFerran to serve as a member of the National Labor Relations Board.

10 a.m. The House meets for morning hour and then at noon for legislative business.

1 p.m. House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on “President Obama's Executive Overreach on Immigration, 2141 Rayburn.

2:15 p.m. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a legislative hearing on the Super Pollutants Act of 2014. Witnesses include: Drew Shindell, professor of climate sciences, Nichols School of Environment, Duke University; Benny Peiser, director, the Global Warming Policy Foundation; and Steve Moore, chief economist, Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity, The Heritage Foundation. 406 Dirksen.

Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business Christina Sevilla will deliver remarks at the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria conference on “The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership:  Small and Medium Enterprises Perspective.” Sofia, Bulgaria.

Wednesday, Dec. 3

10 a.m. The House meets for morning hour and then at noon for legislative business

10 a.m. Senate Agriculture Committee holds a hearing titled “Farmers and Fresh Water: Voluntary Conservation to Protect our Land and Waters.” The hearing will examine different ways farmers and ranchers can help improve water quality in U.S. lakes and rivers through voluntary conservation practices 328A Russell. Witnesses include: Jason Weller, chief of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Marty Matlock, executive director, Office for Sustainability, University of Arkansas. 328A Russell.

10 a.m. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology holds a hearing to review the results of two audits of the National Ecological Observatory Network. Witnesses include Allison Lerner, inspector general, National Science Foundation, and Anita Bales, director, Defense Contract Audit Agency. 2318 Rayburn.

2:30 p.m. Senate Finance Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure holds a hearing titled, “Natural Gas Vehicles: Fueling American Jobs, Enhancing Energy Security and Achieving Emissions Benefits.” Witnesses include: Robert Garrick, natural gas sales manager, Daimler Trucks North America; Harrison Clay, president, Clean Energy; Joseph Calabrese, CEO, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. 215 Dirksen.

3 p.m. USDA releases reports on Broiler Hatchery and Dairy Products.

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds a hearing to consider transportation safety-related nominations. Time and witness list TBA. 253 Russell.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will meet with the Business Roundtable International Engagement Committee, in Washington. Closed press.

Thursday, Dec. 4

9 a.m. The House meets for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.

USTR Froman will meet with US-China Business Council Board, in Washington. Closed press.

Consumer Food Safety Education Conference, through tomorrow, in Arlington, Virginia.

Friday, Dec. 5

3 p.m. USDA releases report on Peanut Prices.

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