Washington Week Ahead: Senate Farm Bill debate expected to start

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, June 3 - The first order of business for the U.S. Senate this week is a procedural vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, S. 3220, an attempt to make what some describe as “female friendly” changes to the Equal Pay Act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960's.


That cloture vote will occur at 2:15pm on Tuesday, June 5 and if it fails, as expected, the next order of business could be consideration of S.3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, will host a press teleconference Monday afternoon to provide reporters with an update on the farm bill. The Michigan Democrat has repeatedly expressed confidence that she has the 60 votes needed to move the bill, which trims $23.6 billion from anticipated federal spending over the next 10 years.

But some southern senators are reluctant to support the measure without significant changes.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., told Agri-Pulse on Open Mic that, a lot of independent groups and think tanks have studied the Senate Agriculture Committee's version of the farm bill and they all agree that, “there's not the fairness.” Boozman was one of five who voted against the measure in committee.

“One group seems to be profiting over another group and perhaps trying to take some of the safety net to reinforce their own. The thing we have to have, and I think will be included in the House bill, is price supports,” Boozman emphasized.

 Experience a renewed commitment to crop insurance.

However, other groups point to a report issued last week by the Food and Agriculture Policy Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri in Columbia as evidence that the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program in the Committee's bill treats program crops like corn, wheat, rice, peanuts and soybeans with an even hand.

“According to the FAPRI analysis, benefits to soybean farmers under the ARC program will amount to 1.9 percent of total market receipts, slightly below the average of corn, wheat and sorghum and slightly above that of peanuts and rice,” said ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb. “This is a good indicator that the Senate version of the Farm Bill treats most commodities equitably.”


The House Agriculture Committee continues to work on developing a signficantly different approach to the farm safety net, but a committee markup schedule has not been released.


Meanwhile, House leaders will continue work on several spending bills, including the Energy and Water bill that they started to work on this week. On Wednesday, the House Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to mark up the fiscal year 2013 Appropriations bill.


For more on this week's schedule:

Monday, June 4:

The House is not in session.

The Senate convenes at 2 p.m.

9:00 a.m., Committee on Oversight and Government Reform | Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending, Field Hearing: EPA Overreach and the Impact on New Hampshire Communities, Exeter Town Office Building, 10 Front Street, Exeter, NH.

10:00 a.m. MT, House Committee on Natural Resources | Subcommittee on Water and Power, Field Hearing: Evaporating Prosperity: How Federal Actions Are Driving Up Water and Power Costs, Threatening Jobs and Leaving Arizonans High and Dry, House Hearing Room 3, Arizona State Capitol, 1700 West Washington Street, Phoenix, Ariz.

Secretary Vilsack will attend the 5th Annual Agricultural Advisors Recognition Ceremony to recognize agricultural advisors, who completed a tour in Afghanistan or Iraq in Washington, DC.

USDA Reports: Crop Progress

Tuesday, June 5:

9:00 a.m., Bipartisan Polity Center, “Lots to Lose: How America's Health and Obesity Crisis Threatens our Economic Future,” Bipartisan Policy Center, 1225 Eye St. NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC.

The House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.

Continued Consideration of H.R. 5325 - Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013 (Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen / Appropriations Committee)

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:

1) H.R. 2060 - Central Oregon Jobs and Water Security Act (Sponsored by Rep. Greg Walden / Natural Resources Committee)

2) H.R. 2336 - York River Wild and Scenic River Study Act of 2011 (Sponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree / Natural Resources Committee)

3) H.R. 1740 - To amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate a segment of Illabot Creek in Skagit County, Washington, as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (Sponsored by Rep. Rick Larsen / Natural Resources Committee)

4) H.R. 3263 - Lake Thunderbird Efficient Use Act of 2011 (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole / Natural Resources Committee)

5) H.R. 241 - To authorize the conveyance of certain National Forest System lands in the Los Padres National Forest in California (Sponsored by Rep. Elton Gallegly / Natural Resources Committee)

6) H.R. 2512 - Three Kids Mine Remediation and Reclamation Act (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck / Natural Resources Committee)

7) H.R. 4222 - To provide for the conveyance of certain land inholdings owned by the United States to the Tucson Unified School District and to the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva / Natural Resources Committee)

8) S. 363 - A bill to authorize the Secretary of Commerce to convey property of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to the City of Pascagoula, Mississippi, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker / Natural Resources Committee)

9) S. 292 - Salmon Lake Land Selection Resolution Act (Sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski / Natural Resources Committee)

10) H.R. 4282 - International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2012 (Sponsored by Rep. Rick Berg / Ways and Means Committee)

Wednesday, June 6:

The House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.

9:30 a.m., House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Hearing: Addressing Concerns About the Integrity of the U.S. Department of Labor's Jobs Reporting, 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.  

10:00 a.m., House Committee on Energy & Commerce | Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Hearing: EPA Priorities and Practices, 2322 Rayburn House Office Building.

10:00 a.m., House Committee on Appropriations | Agriculture Subcommittee, Mark up, 2362-A Rayburn House Office Building.

10:00 a.m., Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, Hearing: The European Union's Emissions Trading System, 253 Russell Senate Office Building.

2:00 p.m., House Committee on Natural Resources | Subcommittee o Water and Power, Hearing: Legislative Hearing on H.R. __ “Accelerated Revenue and Repayment Act" and S. 997  "East Bench Irrigation District Water Contract Extension Act”, 1334 Longworth House Office Building. 

2:00 p.m., House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology | Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Hearing: EPA's Impact on Jobs and Energy Affordability: Understanding the Real Costs and Benefits of Environmental Regulations, 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.

Deputy Secretary Merrigan will give the keynote address at the USDA Small Business Training and Matchmaking Conference at North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC and hold a White House Business Council Roundtable in Morrisville, NC.

Thursday, June 7:

10:00 a.m., U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, Hearing: The Economic Outlook with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.

USDA Reports: U.S. Export Sales

Friday, June 8:

Secretary Vilsack will host an event to highlight Obama Administration efforts to improve access to healthy food and to give the commencement address at Chicago High School for the Agricultural Sciences, in Chicago, IL.

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

Complete Consideration of H.R. 5325 - Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013 (Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen / Appropriations Committee)

H.R. 436 - Health Care Cost Reduction Act of 2012, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen / Ways and Means Committee)

Possible Consideration of H.R. 5855 - Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2013 (Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Robert Aderholt / Appropriations Committee)

Possible Consideration of H.R. 5882 - Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2013 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Ander Crenshaw / Appropriations Committee)

USDA Reports: Latest U.S. Agricultural Trade Data


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