Washington Week Ahead: Congress looking at RFS, farm bill, budget

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2013 - Discussions among lawmakers and stakeholders are expected to continue this week about the EPA's decision to lower the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirement, how to move forward on a long-term farm bill, and how to resolve budget issues between the Senate and the House.

The EPA issued a proposed rule Friday to lower the RFS requirement for 2014 below the congressional mandate to 15.21 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel for blending into gasoline. Congress initially called for an 18.15 billion gallon mandate.

Think tank group Third Way will hold a panel discussion Tuesday on the proposal featuring Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

As the congressional clock runs down, lawmakers are expected to push harder on farm bill negotiations, even though a second formal conference meeting has not been scheduled. Lawmakers also are expected to continue work on resolving differences between the House and the Senate budget proposals.

Congressional leaders may move to convene a conference to settle differences between the Senate version of the reauthorization of the water resources development act (S. 601) and the House version of the legislation (H.R. 3080).

Lets Talk Food

The House picked their conferees last week, and the Senate chose their conferees last month. Both bills seek to re-authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop, maintain, and support the nation's vital port and waterways infrastructure needs, and support effective and targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs. 

Also, chief negotiators and key experts will participate in meetings regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Salt Lake City, Utah, throughout the week.

Further, the House is expected to keep up its attack on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, through a series of hearings.

The week's tentative events include:

Monday, Nov. 18.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will host a media call with Michael O'Gorman, executive director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition to highlight how local and regional food systems are helping to create new markets for new and beginning farmers, including many veterans.

Vilsack will participate alongside United States Trade Representative Michael Froman in a public discussion at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco to highlight the importance of agricultural trade and the need for a long-term farm bill.

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

2:00 p.m. The Senate will convene and proceed to 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: Aquaculture Trade Data

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

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

5:30 p.m. The Senate will vote on a motion to invoke cloture on a judicial nomination.

Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Vilsack will give remarks at Fresno State University in Fresno, Calif., regarding the need for passage of a long-term farm bill and immigration reform.

Chief negotiators and key experts will participate in meetings regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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

10:00 a.m. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on “Is My Data on Healthcare.gov Secure?” in 2318 Rayburn.

10:15 a.m. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on “Security of Healthcare.gov” in 2123 Rayburn.

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

12:00 p.m. Third Way will hold a panel discussion on EPA's proposal to lower the Renewable Fuel Standard requirement in 328A Russell. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is scheduled to deliver opening remarks.

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Milk Production

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Fruit & Tree Nut Yearbook

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Cotton & Wool Yearbook Data

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin (WAOB)

Wednesday, Nov. 20.

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

10:00 a.m. The House Natural Resources Committee will hold an oversight hearing on “Oversight of the Obama Administration's Questionable Application of Sequestration to the Secure Rural Schools Program and Costs to States, Local Economies, and Rural School Children” in 1324 Longworth. Vilsack has been invited testify.

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

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

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Catfish Processing

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Announcement of Advanced Prices and Pricing Factors

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Catfish Feed Deliveries

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

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Meat Price Spreads

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

Thursday, Nov. 21.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will travel to Newark, Del., to visit the University of Delaware and to host a student roundtable. The roundtable will be followed by media availability.

8:30 a.m. USDA Report: U.S. Export Sales

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

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Livestock Slaughter

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Sugar: World Markets and Trade

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Farm Labor

Friday, Nov. 22.

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Cotton Ginnings

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Cold Storage

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

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Cattle on Feed

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Chickens and Eggs

#30

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