President Joe Biden this week releases his first full budget, detailing both his short-term and long-term spending priorities, while he remains far apart from Senate Republicans on a deal around infrastructure spending.
Biden last month released an outline of his fiscal 2021 proposals for discretionary spending, those programs that are funded through the annual appropriations process as opposed to laws like the farm bill that authorize mandatory spending amounts.
The budget outline proposed a $3.8 billion increase for the Agriculture Department with a heavy emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making farms and forests more resilient to climate change.
The full budget, to be released on Friday, will provide more detail on those proposals and also provide his wish list for mandatory spending programs.
But Biden has already laid out his major pending priorities in a separate pair of proposals last month, including his American Jobs Plan, which included more than $2.25 billion in new spending plus another $400 billion in tax credits.
A group of Senate Republicans led by Shelley Moore Capito, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, countered with a narrower $600 billion plan. Then on Friday, Biden countered the GOP proposal with a $1.7 trillion proposal that reduced proposed spending on roads, bridges and broadband to the levels suggested by Republicans. Some other spending was shifted to other bills.
"This proposal exhibits a willingness to come down in size, giving on some areas that are important to the president — otherwise they wouldn't have been in the proposal — while also staying firm in areas that are most vital to rebuilding our infrastructure and industries of the future, making our workforce and our country more competitive with China," said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
A White House memo outlining Biden's counterproposal said he would support $65 billion in broadband funding, down from the $100 billion included in the American Jobs Plan.
Republicans were briefed on the proposal by White House staff Friday afternoon and immediately rejected the offer.
"The groups seem further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting with President Biden. Senate Republicans will further review the details in today’s counteroffer and continue to engage in conversations with the administration," Capito said in a statement.
Meanwhile this week, the Senate Agriculture Committee continues making progress on nominees for top positions at the Agriculture Department. On Thursday, the committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Janie Simms Hipp to become USDA’s general counsel. The general counsel provides critical legal input and oversight across all of the department's programs.
Hipp is currently the CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund and was founding director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas.
The Senate earlier this month confirmed Jewel Bronaugh as USDA’s deputy secretary.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is on the road to promote the debt relief program for minority farmers authorized by the American Relief Plan enacted in March.
On Saturday, Vilsack went to Georgia and on Monday he will be in South Carolina with House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., to meet with local farmers. He will tour a farm in Orangeburg County belonging to Nathaniel Rhodes.
USDA announced Friday that it will begin providing the debt relief in June to minority farmers who hold direct USDA loans.
Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (all times EDT):
Monday, May 24
Kansas City Federal Reserve 2021 Agricultural Symposium: The Roots of Agricultural Productivity Growth, through Tuesday.
2 p.m. — House Energy-Water Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Army Corps of Engineers.
4 p.m. — USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report.
Tuesday, May 25
9 a.m. — USDA releases the monthly Food Price Outlook.
11:30 a.m. — House Energy and Commerce subcommittee online hearing on drinking water legislation.
1 p.m. — House Natural Resources subcommittee online hearing on western drought conditions.
Wednesday, May 26
10 a.m. — House Small Business Committee online hearing on the Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 relief programs.
10 a.m. — Senate Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, “Rethinking Resiliency: Budgeting for the Future of Forest Management,” 138 Dirksen.
2 p.m. — Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Department of Homeland Security, 138 Dirksen.
2:30 p.m. — Senate State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on USAID, 192 Dirksen.
3 p.m. — USDA releases its Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade.
Thursday, May 27
8:30 a.m. — USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.
9:30 a.m. — Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the nomination of Janie Hipp to be USDA general counsel, 366 Dirksen.
11 a.m. — House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the USAID.
Friday, May 28
10 a.m. — House Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the SBA.
For more news, go to: www.Agri-Pulse.com.