The House is approaching another partisan faceoff, this time over funding the government for the next fiscal year, after Republicans narrowly won passage of a defense authorization bill last week.

House members have until Wednesday to propose amendments to the fiscal 2024 Agriculture appropriations bill, setting up potential test votes on farm bill issues. 

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee this week will debate the FY24 Interior-Environment spending bill, which would slash funding for the EPA and restrict regulatory changes on pesticides and motor vehicles. 

The FY24 Agriculture spending bill is being teed up for potential floor debate next week, just ahead of the scheduled August recess.

The House Rules Committee will ultimately decide what amendments will be debated on the House floor; the USDA-FDA bill could offer a chance to test support for potential cuts to or restrictions on farm programs. 

The defense appropriations bill passed 219-210 amid strong opposition from Democrats after hard-line conservatives forced the adoption of amendments dealing with abortion and other social issues. Other appropriations bills are certain to face party-line votes as well. 

Some 21 members of the House Freedom Caucus signed a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., last week, insisting that overall spending for FY24 be cut to the FY22 level of $1.47 trillion, The $25.3 billion Agriculture bill would come close to the FY22 level, while also rescinding funding provided through the Inflation Reduction Act and clawing back some unspent pandemic assistance. 

The Interior-Environment bill would slash EPA’s budget by 39% in FY24 to $6.17 billion and cut spending for the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service by 18% and 13%, respectively. 

The bill’s policy riders include provisions that would repeal the Biden administration’s “waters of the U.S.” rule and bar EPA from approving pesticide labeling that “is inconsistent with or in any respect different from the conclusion” of a review under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act or the chemical’s carcinogenicity classification. 

Meanwhile, the House will spend Wednesday and Thursday debating a Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill, and there could be some votes on the future of sustainable aviation fuel, which can potentially be made from a variety of feedstocks, including oilseeds and corn-based ethanol.

Democrats have proposed amendments to the bill to expand support for SAF and related infrastructure, while Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, is leading a group of Midwest Republicans proposing to create a working group at the FAA to coordinate research and development of SAF. However, the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., is seeking to force a vote on eliminating SAF tax incentives, including a clean fuel tax credit created by the Inflation Reduction Act to subsidize low-carbon biofuels.

Also this week, Xochitl Torres Small will be sworn in on Monday as USDA's deputy agriculture secretary, leaving her post vacant as undersecretary for rural development.

The Senate voted 84-8 last week to approve her nomination as USDA’s No. 2. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said Torres Small would be “laser-focused” on improving customer service at USDA. Jewel Bronaugh left the deputy secretary post earlier this year.

Monday also is when the Black Sea Grain Initiative expires unless the United Nations can get Russian President Vladimir Putin to change course and allow the deal to again be extended and continue to allow millions of tons of grain to flow out of Ukrainian ports.

Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees issued a joint statement Friday condemning Putin’s refusal to negotiate an extension. The deal “has already facilitated over 950 safe voyages, transporting over 30 million tons of grain, fertilizer, and food items from Ukrainian ports to more than 40 countries. Russian intransigence puts this success at risk and exposes Moscow’s willingness to use food as a weapon of war, leading to increases in the risk of famine, human suffering, and global food prices,” the lawmakers said.

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U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres sent a letter to Putin on the fate of the Initiative last week but hadn’t gotten a response as of Friday, according to U.N. officials.

Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (all times EDT):

Monday, July 17

National Corn Growers Association annual Corn Congress, through Thursday, Renaissance Washington.

4 p.m. — USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report. 

Tuesday, July 18

10 a.m. — Farm Foundation forum, “Ownership and Investment in U.S. Farmland.”

10 a.m. ­— House Judiciary subcommittee hearing, “Is There a Right to Repair?” 2031 Rayburn.

10:15 a.m. — House Education and the Workforce subcommittee hearing on the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, 2175 Rayburn.

10:30 a.m. — House Appropriations Committee meeting to consider the fiscal 2024 Transportation-HUD spending bill, 2359 Rayburn.

2 p.m. — House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on the Endangered Species Act, 1324 Longworth.

Wednesday, July 19

10 a.m. — House Appropriations Committee meeting to consider the FY24 Interior-Environment spending bill, 2359 Rayburn.

2:30 p.m. — Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Bureau of Reclamation and related bills, 366 Dirksen.

2:45 p.m. — Senate Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee hearing with Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, 124 Dirksen.

3 p.m. — Senate Agriculture subcommittee hearing on rural water systems, 328A Russell.

Thursday, July 20

8 a.m. — House Select Committee on China hearing, “The Biden Administration’s PRC Strategy,” 390 Cannon.

8:30 a.m. — USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.

9:30 a.m. ­— Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, “The Water Resources Development Act of 2024: Non-Federal Stakeholder Views,” 406 Dirksen.

10:30 a.m. — Senate Appropriations Committee meeting to consider the FY24 Energy-Water, State-Foreign Operations, and Transportation-HUD spending bills, 106 Dirksen.

Friday, July 21

Bill Tomson contributed to this report. 

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