Washington Week Ahead: Lawmakers return to renewed spending battles

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 - After a long August recess, lawmakers and their staff members who flew back to Washington, D.C. on Labor Day got a blast of high winds and heavy rain-stormy weather which may serve as a precursor for the spending battles ahead.


The bipartisan “super committee,” charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in savings from the federal budget before Thanksgiving, is gearing up for their first meeting, which by law must be held by Sept. 16. If this new “Gang of 12” fails to reach an agreement, automatic spending cuts would be triggered.


The House and Senate Agriculture Committees have until Oct. 14 to recommend cuts to programs under their jurisdiction, but there is no guarantee that any of their ideas, if offered, will be included in the final package. Depending on the size of the cuts for agriculture, his new “gang of 12” could determine the shape of the 2012 Farm Bill.


 Together we can feed the Bees

With this budget-cutting action in the backdrop, the Senate Appropriations Committee will focus this week on trying to finalize several 2012 appropriations bills. The agriculture appropriations bill will be considered on Wednesday, Sept. 7, and other subcommittee measures are expected to be finalized before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.


But even if the Appropriatons Committee and the full U.S. Senate is able to act that quickly, the House and Senate are unlikely to be able to resolve their differences in conference before the month ends, setting up the need for a continuing resolution.


Nagged by continuing high unemployment numbers, both Democrats and Republicans will be focusing on jobs this week. President Barack Obama spent his Labor Day in Detroit, Michigan, rallying union workers and previewing some of the talking points he will build upon during his address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday evening. Among other things, the president is expected to push for a major infrastructure program and extension of a payroll tax holiday for workers.


On Tuesday, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney plans to outline his jobs plan in Las Vegas. Job creation, along with cutting spending and repealing federal regulations, are expected to be the key themes for other GOP candidates throughout the week.


For other hearings, reports and events scheduled this week:


Tuesday September 6, 2011

House and Senate return from summer recess.

2:00 p.m. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee:

U.S. Postal Service in Crisis: Proposals to prevent a Postal Shutdown

USDA Reports: Crop Progress

Wednesday September 7, 2011

3:00 p.m., Senate Committee on Appropriations: Adoption of the FY 2012 302(b) Allocations and Markup of the FY 2012 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Energy and Water Development; and Homeland Security Appropriations Bills. SD- 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

USDA Reports: Broiler Hatchery

Thursday September 8, 2011

10 a.m., House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation will hold a hearing on the Smart Grid, 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.

1:30 p.m., American Specialty Agriculture Act, House Committee on the Judiciary: Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.

2:00 p.m., House Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry will hold a public hearing titled “Agricultural Program Audit: Examination of USDA Dairy Programs.” 1300 Longworth House Office Building. 

2:00 p.m., House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Human Resources   Hearing on Improving Work and Other Welfare Reform Goals. The hearing will focus on oversight of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program along with proposals to improve work and other TANF goals as part of upcoming legislation to extend TANF and related programs. Room B-318 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

2:00 p.m., House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a full committee hearing entitled, “Impacts of the LightSquared Network.” 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.

President Obama addresses a joint session of Congress

USDA Reports: Latest U.S. Agricultural Trade Data

Friday September 9, 2011

9:30 a.m., House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment will hold a hearing: “Ozone and EPA's Air Quality Standards.”

2318 Rayburn House Office Building. (postponed)


10:00 am. The Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands Legislative will hold a hearing on H.R. 1441, "Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act" and the "Cabin Fee Act of 2011" 1334 Longworth House Office Building.


USDA Reports: Dairy Products Prices, U.S. Export Sales, Livestock and Meat Trade Data, Peanut Prices, Raisins: World Markets and Trade, Cash Rents-County, U.S. Agricultural Trade Data Update.


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