Washington Week Ahead: How a farm bill could still help avoid the fiscal cliff
By Sara Wyant
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2012 - Key lawmakers said today that there hasn’t been much progress on the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations over the Thanksgiving recess, but there will be a lot of options on the table and potentially a new flurry of activity when they return on Monday.
“Tomorrow there's no excuse. We're back in town,” emphasized Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate’s number two Democrat, during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” with George Stephanopoulos.
“And, George, let me tell you, it gets down to the basics. The House of Representatives has a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate that will spare 98 percent of taxpayers across America from any income tax raises and 97 percent of businesses. It's a bipartisan bill the House should pass to make sure that we go forward with these negotiations without this specter of tax increases for working families.
“They also, I might add, have a bipartisan farm bill sent by the Senate that they've been unable to pass and a bipartisan bill for the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. It's time for the House in the closing days of this session to at least take up those three measures and pass it,” Durbin added.
The farm bill passed by the Senate in June would save $23 billion over 10 years, while a version passed by the House Agriculture Committee in July would save almost $35 billion. Some combination of the two bills could provide a much-needed budgetary offset for those negotiators trying to avoid falling over the fiscal cliff.
Absent what may be a one or two-step compromise during the 13 days that Congress is scheduled to be in session yet this year, $607 billion in tax increases and spending cuts could be triggered in January.
Although House leaders were publicly silent over the Thanksgiving break about the prospects for moving a farm bill, some sources believe the measure still has a chance of being considered before year-end.
Sen. Max Baucus, who stayed in Washington over the Thanksgiving break to work on expiring tax issues and budget cuts, told the Great Fall Tribune’s Washington Bureau that he “hopes the farm bill comes into play as lawmakers look for ways to cut spending. That’s because the farm bill that passed the Senate earlier this year would reduce the deficit by $23 billion while overhauling farm programs.
“We’re part of the solution here,” Baucus said on www.GreatFallsTribune.com . “It’s the kind of approach that must be taken to solve the fiscal cliff. The farm bill is an example of both parties working together.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who appeared with Durbin on “This Week” indicated a willingness to cut a “fiscal cliff” deal that includes generating new revenues, but only if Democrats took action to cut entitlement spending.
“I'm willing to generate revenue. It's fair to ask my party to put revenue on the table. We're below historic averages. I will not raise tax rates to do it. I will cap deductions,” he added, rather than raising tax rates.
“If you cap deductions around the $30,000, $40,000 range, you can raise $1 trillion in revenue, and the people who lose their deductions are the upper-income Americans.”
For his part, Durbin agreed that both Democrats and Republicans need to be more honest about the challenges ahead and, “as we did under Bowles-Simpson, put everything on the table.”
While the fiscal cliff discussions continue this week, the U.S. Senate will continue working toward passage of the “Sportsmen’s Act of 2012” and the House will consider several different measures regarding how to improve the Department of Homeland Security, naming of federal buildings, and subject to a rule, the STEM Jobs Act.
The House voted on a similar STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) measure in September, but it was defeated because it didn’t pass the required two-thirds majority.
More than 80 percent of Democrats voting against it because it also eliminated another visa program that is available for less-educated immigrants.
Republicans have since changed the formula by expanding a program that allows spouses and minor children of people with permanent residence, or green cards, to stay in the United States until they can receive their own green cards.
For other scheduled hearings and events this week:
Monday, Nov. 26.
2:00 p.m., The House is not in session, but the Senate convenes and will consider a Budget Act point of order with respect to S.3525, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012.
5:30 p.m., all post-cloture time on S.3525, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 will be considered expired. The Senate will then proceed to up to two roll call votes:
Tuesday, Nov. 27
The House will meet at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.
Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 6025 - Mandatory Operational Control Reporting and Performance Measures Act of 2012, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Candice Miller / Homeland Security Committee)
2) H.R. 5913 - DHS Accountability Act of 2012, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Mike McCaul / Homeland Security Committee)
3) H.R. 5997 - Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act (Sponsored by Rep. Gus Bilirakis / Homeland Security Committee)
4) H.R. 3563 - Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2012, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Gus Bilirakis / Homeland Security Committee)
5) Senate Amendment to H.R. 915 - Jaime Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act (Sponsored by Rep. Henry Cuellar / Homeland Security Committee)
6) H.R. 6328 - Clothe a Homeless Hero Act (Sponsored by Rep. Kathy Hochul / Homeland Security Committee)
Wednesday, Nov. 28
The House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.
10:00 a.m. , 2123 Rayburn House Office Building, Subcommittee on Health Hearing on “Examining Options to Combat Health Care Waste, Fraud and Abuse”
Thursday, Nov. 29.
On Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.
10:00 a.m. , 2123 Rayburn House Office Building Subcommittee on Energy and Power Forum on Clean Air Act (Part III)
10:00 a.m., 2322 Rayburn House Office Building , Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Hearing on “The Role of Receivers in a Spectrum Scarce World”
10:00 a.m., 2247 Rayburn, The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Identity Theft and Tax Fraud: Growing Problems for the Internal Revenue Service, Part 4
2:00 p.m., 2172 Rayburn House Office Building: House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemispheres will markup H.R. 1798: To prevent foreign states that do business, issue securities, or borrow money in the United States, and then fail to satisfy United States court judgments totaling $100,000,000 or more based on such activities, from inflicting further economic injuries in the United States, from undermining the integrity of United States courts, and from discouraging responsible lending to poor and developing nations by undermining the secondary and primary markets for sovereign debt.
2 p.m., 2128 Rayburn House Office Building, The Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee will hold a hearing on potential cost savings from changing the metallic content of certain circulating coins and from replacing the $1 bill with a $1 coin.
Friday, Nov. 30.
On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.
Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. __ - To designate the federal building currently known as Federal Office Building 8, located at 200 C Street Southwest in the District of Columbia, as the “Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Federal Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Nancy Pelosi / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
2) H.R. 6374 - To designate the facility of the Department of Veterans Affairs located at 180 Martin Drive in Carrollton, Georgia, as the "Trinka Davis Veterans Village" (Sponsored by Rep. Phil Gingrey / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
3) H.R. 5788 - To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 103 Center Street West in Eatonville, Washington, as the "National Park Ranger Margaret Anderson Post Office" (Sponsored by Rep. David Reichert / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
4) H.R. 5738 - To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 15285 Samohin Drive in Macomb, Michigan, as the "Lance Cpl. Anthony A. DiLisio Clinton-Macomb Carrier Annex" (Sponsored by Rep. Candice Miller / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
5) H.R. 3892 - To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 8771 Auburn Folsom Road in Roseville, California, as the "Private First Class Victor A. Dew Post Office" (Sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
6) H.R. 2338 - To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 600 Florida Avenue in Cocoa, Florida, as the "Harry T. and Harriette Moore Post Office" (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Posey / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
7) H.R. 3912 - To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 110 Mastic Road in Mastic Beach, New York, as the "Brigadier General Nathaniel Woodhull Post Office Building" (Sponsored by Rep. Tim Bishop / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
8) H.R. 5954 - To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 320 7th Street in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, as the "Sergeant Leslie H. Sabo, Jr. Post Office Building (Sponsored by Rep. Jason Altmire / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
H.R. 6429 - STEM Jobs Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Judiciary Committee)
9:30 a.m., 2318, Rayburn House Office Building, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment - Tapping America's Energy Potential Through Research and Development
For more news, go to www.Agri-Pulse.com