A government shutdown threatens to continue into the work week with lawmakers and the White House deadlocked over a short-term funding extension amid Democratic demands for an agreement on legalizing the Dreamers.
Agency funding lapsed at midnight Friday after Democrats blocked the Senate from approving a House-passed continuing resolution that would have kept the government open until Feb. 16.
Democrats complained that President Trump had failed to deliver on promises to approve a deal providing legal status to young people who were brought into the country illegally as children and signed up for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA) program.
President Trump is refusing to negotiate a DACA deal until Democrats allow the government to reopen.
“We hope that Senate Democrats will yield and accept that their position is unreasonable, and reopen the government to make sure that our men and women in uniform continue to get paid,” Marc Short, the White House conversional liaison, said Saturday.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, R-N.Y., blamed the impasse on GOP partisanship and noted that Republicans weren’t united in supporting the Feb. 16 bill.
“In our democracy, you have to compromise if you wish to govern. That’s how our founding fathers designed our government to operate,” Schumer said.
“And yet time and time again, the Republican leader (Mitch McConnell) believes he can just drop legislation on the floor, say take it or leave it, and then gear up the machines of partisan war if we decide to leave it.”
McConnell, R-Ky., began pushing this weekend for a vote on a shorter extension to Feb. 8. A vote to limit debate on the resolution can't occur until 1 a.m. Monday unless Democrats agree to an earlier vote. Members of the House, which would have to approve any change in the original spending bill, have been on standby during the weekend.
The fight over the funding extension and DACA has done nothing to help advance a number of key agriculture issues, including a new farm bill.
Congressional GOP leaders hope to wrap up giant, omnibus spending bill by March that would fund the government through the rest of fiscal 2018 while also providing a vehicle for enacting a host of other priorities, a renewal of expired biofuel tax benefits, hurricane disaster assistance, and, critical for the farm bill, new funding for cotton and dairy producers.
Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees have been counting on getting the cotton and dairy provisions to relieve some budget pressure on the new farm bill.
“You don’t know what the (funding) baseline is going to be” until the cotton and dairy provisions get enacted, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told Agri-Pulse on Friday as he waited for the Senate to vote on the Feb. 16 spending bill.
“Without a baseline, and without dairy and cotton off the table, it’s going to be very difficult to get something done” on the farm bill.
Roberts said a farm bill needs to move in March, ahead of the two-week Easter recess, in order to get the legislation enacted this year.
“Once you get to a certain part of the year people start talking about an extension and that’s so much easier than doing a farm bill. That just gains steam and then you’re really in a pickle,” Roberts said.
The omnibus bill also would provide a way for lawmakers to modify a new tax benefit for farmer cooperatives to address concerns by grain companies that it unfairly encourages farmers to sell to coops rather than other buyers.
Meanwhile this week, a panel of experts that advises the government on battling the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, is scheduled to consider appealing to the White House to reserve cuts in funding for research monitoring programs.
A letter drafted by the chairman and vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria warns that without more funding “pivotal issues which concern both veterinary and human medicine that, if left unaddressed, would undermine the collective U.S. government effort to combating antibiotic resistance.”
The letter pleas in part for USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to continue to provide dedicated funding of research into curbing antibiotic resistance in agriculture. In 2017, nearly $11 million was available for new research grants, but that program is slated to be eliminated in FY18, the letter says.
The council’s vice chairman is Lonnie King, a Ohio State University professor who is a former administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Here’s a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere:
Monday, Jan. 22
International Dairy Foods Association’s Dairy Forum 2018, through Wednesday, Palm Desert, Calif.
National Biodiesel Conference and Expo, through Thursday, Fort Worth, Tex.
Tuesday, Jan. 23
9 a.m. Farm Foundation Forum, “The Role of Conservation Practices in Meeting Water Quality Goals,” National Press Club
Noon - Heritage Foundation forum, “Section 201: The Threat of Tariffs on the Growing U.S. Economy,” 214 Massachusetts Ave NE.
Wednesday, Jan. 24
All day - Meeting of Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
9 a.m. - Washington International Trade Association forum, “What's Happening with Trade Around the World?” Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
Noon - Cato Institute forum, “Clashing over Commerce: A History of U.S. Trade Policy,” 1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
Thursday, Jan. 25
9 a.m. - USDA releases monthly Food Price Outlook.
10 a.m. - Senate Banking Committee hearing on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), 538 Dirksen.
Friday, Jan.. 26
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