The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Gary Gensler, heads to Capitol Hill this week to face lawmakers who are sharply divided over the agency’s plan to require corporations to track and disclose greenhouse gas emissions in their supply chains.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are facing a Sept. 30 deadline to avert a government shutdown when the fiscal year ends. The House could take up a continuing resolution as soon as this week to keep the government operating after Oct. 1, likely until December. But there are looming questions about whether to include other provisions, such as a disaster aid package or permitting reforms for electrical transmission and pipelines.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., wants the permitting reform included in the CR and he’s got support from powerful Democrats, including Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, has vowed to oppose the CR if Manchin’s plan is included.
The top Republican on the Senate Ag Committee, John Boozman of Arkansas, thinks disaster aid will ultimately get left out of the CR because his GOP colleagues want to keep extraneous matters off the measure.
But he said there is a good chance disaster funding will be included in a fiscal 2023 omnibus spending package that Congress will eventually need to pass. “I would think the disaster assistance will come in the final omnibus later in the year,” he said.
The SEC proposal announced in March could have a sweeping impact on agriculture because of the importance of farm emissions in the production of food and apparel.
Every GOP member of the Senate Banking Committee, which Gensler will face on Thursday, sent a letter to him in April, demanding that the commission withdraw the proposal. Another letter the senators sent in July posed a series of questions about the plan.
“This sweeping, close to 500-page proposed rule is unnecessary and inappropriate, exceeds the SEC’s mission and expertise, will harm consumers, workers, and the entire U.S. economy at a time when energy prices are skyrocketing, and hijacks the democratic process in determining U.S. climate policy,” the senators said in the July letter.
Gensler has said the rule would “provide investors with consistent, comparable, and decision-useful information” on companies’ progress in meeting climate-related goals. Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said the rule balanced "the need to accurately evaluate market risks while ensuring small businesses aren’t overburdened.”
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill this week, the House Agriculture Committee continues its examination of farm bill issues with a hearing Thursday morning on rural broadband funding, and Ag and Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittees will hold a joint hearing that afternoon on rail service amid concerns about delays in rail service and a potential strike heading into the harvest season.
House Ag will have a hearing Wednesday on soil health and regenerative agriculture, issues that will get a substantial increase in funding through the nearly $20 billion provided to farm bill conservation programs through the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act.
On the other side of Capitol Hill, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on Biden’s latest nominee to head the Labor Department’s Wage and House Division, Jessica Looman, a former labor union official who is serving as principal deputy administrator while waiting for confirmation.
Biden’s first pick for the job, David Weil was forced to withdraw his nomination in April after Senate Democrats failed to muster enough votes to defeat a cloture motion.
Looman previously served as the executive director of the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is expected to speak Monday to members of the National Farmers Union, who are holding their annual fly-in this week. Other expected speakers include Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh and Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt.
On Tuesday, Biden administration leaders will address biofuel advocates as EPA Administrator Michael Regan and Bronaugh are scheduled to speak to folks in town for the Growth Energy fly-in.
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The administration offered a win for the industry earlier this year when it used emergency authority to allow summertime E15 sales. But the emergency circumstances of this summer are unlikely to be around in the 2023 summer, leaving the industry in search of a new fix. Eight states filed a petition seeking emergency relief earlier this year to allow the sales to take place there.
Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (all times EDT):
Monday, Sept. 12
National Farmers Union fly-in, through Wednesday.
Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria public meeting, through Tuesday, Tysons Corner Marriott, Tysons Corner, Virginia.
4 p.m. — USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report.
Tuesday, Sept. 13
Growth Energy Biofuels Summit, through Thursday, Hilton Capitol Hill.
8:30 a.m. — Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the Consumer Price Index for August.
10 a.m. — Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the nomination of Jessica Looman to be administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, 106 Dirksen.
Wednesday, Sept. 14
10 a.m. — House Agriculture Committee hearing, “Soil Health Practices and Programs that Support Regenerative Agriculture,” 1300 Longworth.
10 a.m. — House Small Business subcommittee hearing, “Right to Repair and What it Means for Entrepreneurs,” 2360 Rayburn.
11 a.m. — House Ways and Means Committee hearing on U.S.-Taiwan trade, 1100 Longworth.
Thursday, Sept. 15
8:30 a.m. — USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.
10 a.m. — House Agriculture Committee hearing on the farm bill and rural broadband, 1300 Longworth.
10 a.m. — Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act, 215 Dirksen.
10 a.m. — Senate Banking Committee hearing with Gary Gensler, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, 538 Dirksen.
2 p.m. — Joint hearing of House Agriculture and House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittees on rail service challenges, 2167 Rayburn.
Friday, Sept. 16
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