Congressional negotiators continue to make progress on a year-end deal to fund the government for fiscal 2023. Leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees announced Tuesday evening they had reached agreement on “a bipartisan, bicameral framework” that will allow them to finalize details of the omnibus spending bill.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says the package must be passed by the end of the day Dec. 22. “We intend not to be back here between Christmas and New Year’s, and if we can’t meet that deadline, we would be happy to pass a short-term CR into early next year,” he told reporters.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said negotiators are “working tirelessly” to close out the omnibus.
By the way: McConnell expressed optimism Tuesday that Republicans would have better Senate candidates across the board in 2024 than they did in some cases this year. He directly blamed former President Donald Trump for GOP losses in several states this year.
“Our ability to control the primary outcome was quite limited in ’22, because the support of the former president proved to be very decisive in some of these (GOP) primaries,” McConnell said.
Food prices continue to support inflation
Supermarket prices rose another 0.5% in November, offsetting declines in energy costs and fueling fresh GOP attacks on President Joe Biden. Senate GOP Whip John Thune, R-S.D., blamed the continued inflation on the administration’s policies and spending.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the overall Consumer Price Index is “going in the right direction, going down.” The CPI was up 0.1% for the month.
Keep in mind: FMI-The Food Industry Association, which represents Walmart, Kroger and other major grocery chains, warns food prices will remain elevated for some time because supply chain issues will “take time to recalibrate and work through the system.”
SD governor seeks state CFIUS to review foreign land deals
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and some state legislators want to recreate the Council on Foreign Investment in the U.S. in their state to investigate foreign land purchases.
A bill proposed by state Sen. Erin Tobin and Rep. Gary Cammack would establish a Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States - South Dakota. CFIUS-SD would be chaired by the governor’s general counsel and include the state’s agriculture secretary and homeland security director as well as an agricultural expert who owns at least 160 acres of South Dakota agricultural land and an expert in national or state security.
Take note: Several Missouri legislators are drafting bills targeting foreign ownership as well. Some of these would just prohibit new purchases beyond the state’s current 1% cap, while others propose banning all foreign ownership entirely.
Poll: Impacts of opioid crisis linger in rural areas, but awareness has increased
Rural residents are more willing to talk about the opioid crisis than they were five years ago, according to a new poll from the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union.
About 60% of the 2,000 rural adults surveyed said residents in their community were more aware of the opioid crisis than they were five years ago, while 77% reported feeling comfortable having a conversation about opioids.
Take note: More rural adults also now believe rural communities have higher rates of opioid misuse than urban and suburban areas than they did five years ago. Nearly half those surveyed said they know someone who is or has been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers.
Ukraine ports coming back online after Russian missile strikes
The three Odesa ports responsible for exporting millions of tons of corn and wheat are resuming operations after Russian missile strikes hit some nearby energy infrastructure, according to the consulting firm APK Inform.
The ports of Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk are operational, but the port of Odesa was still without power as of Monday, according to the latest statement from the Ukrainian Sea Ports Administration.
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“Thanks to energy workers that work 24/7, the energy supply is gradually being restored. Alternative power sources are also used,” USPA director Oleksiy Vostrikov said. “Ports of Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk carry out cargo operations. Port of Odesa, unfortunately, is not functioning yet.”
Board probes UP’s use of embargoes
This week, the Surface Transportation Board has brought together Union Pacific and a few of the shippers that use its service to discuss the company’s increased use of railroad embargoes as a congestion control measure.
Embargoes allow railroads to restrict the movement of freight to and from certain points, although some customers do obtain permits allowing for transport of their goods.
Union Pacific has imposed more than 1,000 embargoes so far this year, compared to just five in 2017. In response to questions from STB Chairman Martin Oberman, UP CEO Lance Fritz said Tuesday that embargoes are a “last resort” and only used if there is a “real or immediate threat to the fluidity of the network.”
Another day of hearings is planned today.
He said it: “The use of embargoes? It strikes me you folks have pushed that to the envelope, through the envelope and over the cliff.” — STB’s Oberman on Union Pacific’s use of embargoes to clear congestion.
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