Washington Week Ahead: Congress pushes to avoid shutdown

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2013 - The Senate is expected today to address a possible government shutdown by considering a House-passed bill (H.J.Res.59) that would continue funding for government agencies through mid-December and delay implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, for one year.

The shutdown, which may occur tonight, would affect non-essential functions of the government. The Senate is scheduled to convene at 2:00 p.m. today to consider action.

The House legislation is a non-starter in the Senate. The White House has threatened a veto of the House bill, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has described it as “pointless.”

The Senate may strip out the language delaying implementation of Obamacare and then send it back to the House.

How this plays out remains unclear, but the effects on USDA employees could be far-reaching. The agency posted a detailed Q and A for employees who may be furloughed and an agency-by-agency instruction list. For details, click, here.

Lets Talk Food

A shutdown would not directly affect the core mission of USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) as inspectors would remain on the job, but the workload within other FSIS support functions, such as administrative appeals and labeling, could be impacted. Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program enrollment would stop. Funding would likely halt for export promotions, including the Foreign Agricultural Service's Foreign Market Development Program and the Market Access Program.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will likely provide more details when he speaks at the United Fresh conference on Tuesday. He is also scheduled to testify Thursday before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee on “Advanced Biofuels: Creating Jobs and Lower Prices at the Pump.” He'll be joined by James C. Collins, Jr.  senior vice president, Industrial Biosciences, Performance Polymers and Packaging & Industrial Polymers businesses, who provides a preview of his testimony on this week's Open Mic.

Other events include:

Monday, Sept. 30.

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will address the United Fresh policy conference in Washington, D.C.

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Grain Stocks

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Small Grains Summary

2:00 p.m. The Senate will convene and proceed with a period of morning business.

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Egg Products

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Turkey Raised

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Fruit & Tree Nuts Outlook

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Vegetables & Pulses Outlook

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

Tuesday, Oct. 1.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will speak to the United Fresh policy conference in Washington, D.C.

10:30 a.m. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Environment will hold a hearing on the reauthorization of the National Integrated Drought Information System in 2318 Rayburn.

1:00 p.m. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on “Perspectives from Users of the Nation's Freight System” in 2167 Rayburn.

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Commodity Costs and Returns Data. 

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

Wednesday, Oct. 2.

9:00 a.m. The House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management will hold a hearing on “The Future of the CFTC: Perspectives on Customer Protections” in 1300 Longworth.10:00 a.m.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Government Operations will hold a hearing on “Examining the Federal Response to Marijuana Legislation” in 2247 Rayburn.

10:00 a.m. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing on “The North American Energy Infrastructure Act” in 2123 Rayburn.

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

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Announcement of Class and Component Prices

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

Thursday, Oct. 3.

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

9:30 a.m. The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold a hearing on “Advanced Biofuels: Creating Jobs and Lower Prices at the Pump” in 328A Russell. Scheduled witnesses include USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Mike Lynch, managing director of Green Innovation for NASCAR, and Jim Collins, senior vice president of DuPont Polymers and Industrial Biosciences.

10:00 a.m. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on “Reviewing FDA's Implementation of FDASIA” in 2123 Rayburn.

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

Friday, Oct. 4.

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

#30

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