Washington Week Ahead: Lawmakers zooming in on budget, tax reform

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, April 7, 2014 - Lawmakers will focus this week on discussions about the fiscal year 2015 budget, tax reform, EPA, and nominees for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The House is expected to consider a budget proposal that aims to reduce federal spending by $5.1 trillion over 10 years and includes spending cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and mandatory agricultural outlays, as well as policy recommendations in regards to EPA regulations. The House Budget Committee approved the plan on a 22-16 party-line vote.

The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday to discuss expired business tax provisions with an emphasis on how permanent tax policy can promote certainty for businesses and generate additional economic growth. The hearing comes after the Senate Finance Committee approved legislation to renew various expired tax provisions, known as “tax extenders,” and to provide assistance for biodiesel, cellulosic biofuel and other renewable fuels. The package includes provisions that aim to benefit individuals, families, and small businesses, incentivize innovative research and development, and promote alternative and renewable energy initiatives. The bill also includes an extension of a conservation easement-related tax incentive. A summary of the bill can be viewed here.

Meanwhile, the Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to hold a business meeting Tuesday to vote on three nominees for the CFTC, including Timothy Massad to serve as chairman, and J. Christopher Giancarlo and Sharon Y. Bowen to serve as commissioners. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., have expressed concerns about the lack of agricultural experience among the nominees, but are not expected to hold up their confirmations.

Lets Talk Food

Following the vote, the committee will hold a hearing to discuss the role of domestically-produced, advanced, non-food based biofuels in creating jobs and strengthening the rural economy.

On EPA, a Senate Appropriations subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday to discuss the administration's FY 2015 budget request with EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. EPA continues to face criticism over its proposal to lower the Renewable Fuel Standard requirement for 2014 by 16 percent, from the initial congressional mandate of 18.15 gallons of ethanol and biodiesel for blending into gasoline to 15.21 billion gallons. Also, EPA is under fire for a proposed rule determining which bodies of water and wetland are protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The week's tentative events include:

Monday, April 7.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will deliver remarks at the North American Agricultural Journalists luncheon in Washington, D.C.

9:00 a.m. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will deliver a keynote address to a workshop convened by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C.

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

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Amber Waves magazine

2:00 p.m. The Senate will convene for a period of morning business.

2:00 p.m. The House will meet for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Crop Progress

5:00 p.m. The Senate will resume consideration of legislation to extend unemployment benefits, followed by a vote on the bill.

Tuesday, April 8.

9:45 a.m. The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a business meeting to consider three nominees to serve on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 328-A Russell.

10:00 a.m. The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on “Advanced Biofuels: Creating Jobs and Lower Prices at the Pump” in 328-A Russell. Scheduled witnesses include: Richard Childress, CEO of Richard Childress Racing; Jan Koninckx, global business director for biorefineries at DuPont Industrial Biosciences; Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council; Sumesh Arora, vice president of Innovate Mississippi; and Nancy Young, vice president of environmental affairs for Airlines of America.

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

10:00 a.m. The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing to discuss expired tax provisions with an emphasis on how permanent tax policy could promote certainty for businesses in 1100 Longworth.

10:00 a.m. The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a legislative hearing on four bills (H.R. 4315, H.R. 4316, H.R. 4317, H.R. 4318) in relation to the Endangered Species Act in 1324 Longworth.

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 the administration's FY 2015 budget request for USDA field agencies in 2362-A Rayburn. Scheduled witnesses include: Michael Scuse, under secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services; Juan Garcia, Farm Service Agency administrator; Phil Karsting, Foreign Agriculture Service administrator; Brandon Willis, Risk Management Agency administrator; Jason Weller, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Michael Young, USDA budget officer.                                 

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

Wednesday, April 9.

Vilsack will deliver remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.

9:15 a.m. The Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing to discuss the administration's FY 2015 budget request for EPA. Location is to be determined. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is scheduled to testify.

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

10:00 a.m. The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a legislative markup on several bills including H.R. 2208, which would extend authorizations of appropriations to carry out wetlands conservation projects, in 1324 Longworth.

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

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: WASDE

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

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

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

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

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

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

1:00 p.m. The House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on “The Biggest Tax Problems for Small Businesses” in 2360 Rayburn.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 10.

Vilsack will deliver remarks at the National Action Network National Convention in New York City.

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

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

9:30 a.m. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on “Keeping the lights on - Are we doing enough to ensure the reliability and security of the U.S. electric grid?” in 366 Dirksen.

10:00 a.m. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a business meeting to consider several bills, including the Brownfields Utilization Act (S. 491) and the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (S. 2080), in 406 Dirksen.

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

Friday, April 11.

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

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

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

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Historical Track Records Crop Productions

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

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

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

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