Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on Thursday released all 12 spending bills for fiscal 2023 without waiting for the panel’s normal bipartisan process of debating the measures separately.

The bills would increase non-defense spending by 10.1% and defense spending by 8.7% over fiscal 2022, which ends Sept. 30.

The Agriculture bill, which funds the Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration, would increase spending by 9%, or $2.3 billion, to $27.1 billion for FY23.

The 12 Senate bills are normally considered in subcommittees and then debated and amended in full committee before being released. Republicans have indicated they won’t be ready to compromise on FY23 spending measures until after the mid-term elections in November.

“It is my hope that by releasing these bills, and making clear what the priorities of Senate Democrats are, we can take a step closer toward reaching a bipartisan compromise after months of stalled negotiations,” Leahy said. “The stakes of inaction are too high to not complete our work.”

The top Republican on Appropriations, Richard Shelby of Alabama, slammed Leahy’s decision to release the bills before negotiating with Republicans.

The bills would “spend billions more than even the administration’s wasteful request," he said. "These drafts fail to appropriately allocate resources to our national defense, remove important legacy riders that enjoyed broad, bipartisan support just four months ago, and are filled with poison pills.”

Shelby said Democrats “have even taken the drastic step of providing hundreds of millions of dollars for taxpayer-financed abortions.”

The bills determine annual spending levels for programs that are funded through the annual appropriations process. Funding for many other programs is accomplished through laws such as the farm bill.

The Agriculture measure would provide $3.9 billion for agriculture research, a $248 million increase over FY22. The Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s in-house research arm, would get a $161 million increase to $1.9 billion. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which funds outside research, would get a $100 million increase to $1.7 billion.

The bill would provide the Natural Resources Conservation Service $808 million for conservation technical assistance. The White House requested $885.6 million in USDA conservation technical assistance for fiscal 2023, a $154 million increase from FY22. 

USDA’s ReConnect broadband funding program would get $400 million through the Senate bill.  A package of FY23 bills passed by the House last week would provide $450 million for ReConnect.

To address global hunger needs, the Senate bill would provide $1.8 billion for the Food for Peace program, a $60 million increase over FY22, and $250 million, a $13 million increase, for the McGovern-Dole international school feeding program.

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The Senate bill, like the House version, would continue an increase in benefits under the Women, Infants and Children nutrition assistance program for purchasing fruits and vegetables.

FDA would get $3.5 billion through the Senate bill, an increase of $229 million over FY22. That total includes an increase of $43.5 million for food safety. The House version would provide $77 million more for food safety.

The Senate Interior-Environment bill would provide $10.6 billion for EPA, an increase of $1.1 billion. The measure would increase EPA’s climate and clean air programs by $231 million, or 54%.

Republicans said EPA would be allowed to regulate of methane emissions from livestock and that the bill lacks a longstanding limitation on requiring greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the Interior Department, would get a 17% increase in funding to $1.8 billion. According to a committee summary, the increases would fund “wildlife conservation across multiple areas from combatting international wildlife trafficking, to supporting landmark conservation laws like the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and supporting the National Wildlife Refuge System.”

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