Leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee are rushing to finalize agreement on a bipartisan farm bill with an eye toward getting it out of the chamber this month to set the stage for negotiations with their House counterparts.
Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said last week that he hoped to have his committee act on the bill this Wednesday, although acknowledging that date “could be a moving target.”
Sources continued to tell Agri-Pulse that the week of June 11 was more likely, given the time that Robert and ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., needed to reach agreement on a number of issues. Senators were not in Washington last week with Congress in its week-long break for the Memorial Day holiday.
Roberts' spokeswoman Meghan Cline would only say that Roberts and Stabenow “are working as quickly as possible to release a bipartisan” bill.
At a forum last week in Kansas with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Roberts said there was a “clear path” to floor consideration of the bill because of commitments from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Meanwhile, House GOP leaders are searching for a way out of an intra-party dispute over immigration policy that led to the defeat of that chamber’s farm bill May 18. Some conservatives refused to vote for the farm bill until the House took up immigration legislation that they could support.
The House this week will put a focus on the nation’s waterways by debating a new Water Resources Development Act and the fiscal 2019 appropriations bill that funds the Army Corps of Engineers.
The House WRDA bill and another version pending in the Senate would authorize new Army Corps of Engineers projects and require a study by the National Academy of Sciences of how the Corps analyzes the costs and benefits of projects.
The FY19 Energy-Water appropriations bill that the House will debate would allocate $7.28 billion to the Corps of Engineers, a $451 million increase from fiscal 2018. That includes $3.3 billion for navigation projects and studies.
Democrats are angry that the bill includes a provision to repeal the Obama-era “Waters of the United States” rule that re-defined the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. The provision is intended to expedite the process of replacing the rule. EPA has been using its cumbersome administrative procedures to rescind the rule and expects to publish a new proposed WOTUS rule in August, according to the latest semi-annual regulatory agenda.
Another provision in the bill targeted by Democrats would prevent the removal of any dam unless specifically authorized by Congress. Federal agencies have been considering removing four dams on the lower Snake River in order to help salmon populations.
On Tuesday, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trade Commission, Chris Giancarlo, will defend his agency’s budget request before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee. Giancarlo will be armed with support from commodity and agribusiness groups for his request to increase the agency’s budget by $31.5 million to $281.5 million in fiscal 2019.
The House Appropriations Committee approved a bill last month that would increase CFTC spending in FY19 to $255 million.
Without adequate funding, CFTC’s work on a number of important issues could be slowed, including a new rule setting limits on speculative positions, the 16 agriculture groups said in their letter to the leaders of a House Appropriations subcommittee.
Here’s a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere:
Monday, June 4
4 p.m. - USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report.
Tuesday, June 5
10 a.m. - Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee meeting to consider its fiscal 2019 spending bill, 192 Dirksen.
10 a.m. - Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the wildfire outlook, 366 Dirksen.
3:30 p.m. - Senate Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission, 138 Dirksen.
Wednesday, June 6
10:15 a.m. - House Natural Resources Committee meeting to consider bills relating to the Forest Service and the state permitting process for rural broadband expansion, 1324 Longworth.
Thursday, June 7
10:30 a.m. - Senate Appropriations Committee meeting to consider the FY19 Transportation-HUD bill, 106 Dirksen.
2 p.m. - House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on business investment and trade in the Americas, 2172 Rayburn.
2 p.m. - Washington International Trade Association forum with Gilbert Kaplan, Commerce Department’s undersecretary for international trade, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
Friday, June 8
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