Washington Week Ahead: Lawmakers looking at climate change, water rights, budget

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, March 10, 2014 - Lawmakers will turn their attention to an array of issues this week including climate change, water rights, the proposed fiscal year 2015 budget, support for Ukraine, and what Republicans describe as an overreach of the Obama administration.

In dramatic fashion, about 30 Democratic senators are expected to hold the Senate floor overnight between Monday and Tuesday to urge action on climate change. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said the senators, mostly from the Senate Climate Action Task Force, will make speeches from around 8 p.m. Monday through to about 9 a.m. Tuesday. Boxer said, “So many senators coming together for an all-night session shows our commitment to wake up Congress to the dangers of climate change. All you have to do is look at China to see what happens to your country when you throw the environment under the bus.”

The House is expected to consider H.R. 3189, the Water Rights Protection Act, offered by Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., which would prevent federal agencies from requiring privately held water rights to be turned over to the federal government. Supporters said the U.S. Forest Service has attempted to require multiple use permit holders to turn over their privately owned water rights to the federal government as a condition of their permit renewal. The Water Rights Protection Act prohibits the interior secretary and the agriculture secretary from requiring the transfer of privately held water rights to the federal government as a condition of a special use permit, lease or other land use arrangement. The Senate has companion legislation.

Lawmakers will continue to chew on the administration's FY 2015 budget proposal during two hearings this week. First, the House Budget Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to discuss the administration's budget and economic policy proposals with testimony from Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. Then, the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on Friday on the budget proposal with testimony from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, USDA chief economist Joseph Glauber, and USDA budget officer Michael Young.

On the Ukraine issue, the House passed a bill last week to provide the administration with the authority to extend loan guarantees to the nation, and now the House is set to consider a resolution under suspension to express support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

< Lets Talk Fooddiv>Also, the House is expected to consider a number of bills aimed at addressing what Republican lawmakers consider executive overreach by the Obama administration. The House will consider H.R. 3973, the Faithful Execution of the Law Act, which would require federal officials to report to Congress when the administration fails to faithfully enforce current law; and H.R. 4138, the ENFORCE Act, which would establish procedures under which the House, or the Senate, may authorize a lawsuit against the executive branch for failure to faithfully execute the laws.

In addition, the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline will receive a spotlight when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing Thursday on determining the national interest of the contentious project.

The week's tentative events include:

Monday, March 10.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will address the 112th National Farmers Union Conference in Sante Fe, N.M.
Vilsack will deliver remarks and tour the Lowe's Corner Market in Albuquerque, N.M.

10:00 a.m. USDA Report: Livestock & Meat International Trade Data

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin (WAOB)

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: WASDE

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Crop Production

12:15 p.m. USDA Report: Cotton: World Markets and Trade

12:15 p.m. USDA Report: Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade

12:15 p.m. USDA Report: World Agriculture Production

12:15 p.m. USDA Report: Grains: World Markets and Trade

4:00 p.m. The Senate will convene for one hour of morning business.

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Season-Average Price Forecasts

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: U.S. Agricultural Trade Data Update

5:00 p.m. The Senate will proceed to executive session to consider a judicial nomination.

5:30 p.m. The Senate will vote on cloture on the judicial nomination, and then resume a legislative session followed by a vote on final passage of S. 1917, the Victim Protection Act.

Tuesday, March 11.

12:00 p.m. The House will meet for morning hour debate.

2:00 p.m. The House will meet for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m. The House is expected to take up, under suspension of the rules, the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act, H.R. 311. The bill includes a provision that seeks to ensure that the EPA's pending spill prevention, control and countermeasure regulations adequately recognize the low risk of spills on U.S. farms and ranches.

 Wednesday, March 12.

Vilsack will keynote the National PTA Legislative Conference in Arlington, Va.

10:00 a.m. The House will meet for morning hour debate.

10:00 a.m. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Environment and Subcommittee on Energy will hold a joint hearing on “Science of Capture and Storage: Understanding EPA's Carbon Rules” in 2318 Rayburn.

12:00 p.m. The House will meet for legislative business.

1:00 p.m. USDA Report: CWS: Cotton and Wool Outlook

1:00 p.m. USDA Report: WHS: Wheat Outlook

1:00 p.m. USDA Report: OCS: Oil Crops Outlook

2:00 p.m. The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the president's fiscal year 2015 revenue and economic policy proposals in 210 Cannon. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is a scheduled witness.

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Broiler Hatchery

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: National Dairy Products Sales Report

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Price Reactions after USDA Crop Reports

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: FDS: Feed Outlook

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: RCS: Rice Outlook

Thursday, March 13.

Vilsack will address the National Congress of American Indians 2014 Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C.

8:30 a.m. USDA Report: Weekly Export Sales

9:00 a.m. USDA Report: Feed Grains Database

10:00 a.m. The House will meet for morning hour debate.

10:00 a.m. The House Agriculture Committee will hold a business meeting to consider the Budget Views and Estimates Letter of the agencies and programs under jurisdiction of the committee for FY 2015 in 1300 Longworth. In addition, the committee with consider H.R. 935, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2013, and H.Con.Res. 86, Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the enactment of the Smith-Lever Act, which established the nationwide Cooperative Extension System.

10:00 a.m. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee will hold a hearing on “Protecting the Public Health: Examining FDA's Initiatives and Priorities” in 430 Dirksen.

11:15 a.m. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on “Keystone XL and the National Interest Determination” in Dirksen 419.

12:00 p.m. The House will meet for legislative business.

1:30 p.m. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Census will hold a hearing on “At a Crossroads: the Postal Service's $100 billion in Unfunded Liabilities” in 2247 Rayburn.

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Turkey Hatchery

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: U.S. Bioenergy Statistics

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Aquaculture Data

Friday, March 14.

9:00 a.m. The House will meet for legislative business with the last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m. The House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on USDA's FY 2015 budget proposal in 2362-A Rayburn. Scheduled witnesses include Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, USDA chief economist Joseph Glauber, and USDA budget officer Michael Young.

1:00 p.m. USDA Report: SSSM: Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook

1:00 p.m. USDA Report: Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Peanut Prices

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