The Senate this week takes up a package of spending bills that includes the measure to fund USDA and FDA for fiscal 2024, while House Republicans return from the chamber’s long summer recess still divided over how to avoid a possible government shutdown when the new budget year starts Oct. 1.

The Senate, which hasn’t had a floor debate on an appropriations bill for years, is expected to debate a range of amendments to the FY24 package, including some proposals that could target farm programs; senators are expecting a fairly open amendment process. Still, the Senate is ultimately expected to pass the three-bill package intact with broad support.

Unlike in the House, the Senate’s FY24 appropriations process has been virtually free of controversy, because Senate leaders opted to write their appropriations bills to the levels agreed to in this spring debt-ceiling deal and to leave out culture-war issues.

The top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, John Hoeven of North Dakota, said at a Punchbowl News event on Friday that a strong vote on the package would “send a very strong signal that we are going to get our appropriations bills done.”

An overwhelming, bipartisan vote also could bolster the Senate's negotiating leverage in coming budget negotiations with House Republican leaders, who are trying to cut FY24 spending well below levels in the debt-ceiling deal.

Sen. John Boozman, a member of the Appropriations Committee who's also the top Republican on the Agriculture Committee, is expecting to debate amendments on the spending package that could address farm bill issues.

“We’ll have to see as those (amendments) arise, but that would not be uncommon,” Boozman told Agri-Pulse.

House Republicans were unable to bring up their FY24 Agriculture appropriations bill for floor debate in July after the GOP leadership was unable to satisfy demands from a band of hard-line conservatives who are seeking deeper cuts in spending.

Now, those same conservatives are threatening to torpedo a continuing resolution that will be needed to keep the government funded after Sept. 30. President Joe Biden wants the CR to include $40.1 billion in supplemental spending, including aid for Ukraine’s war against Russia.

Also at stake is a list of “anomalies” that the White House is asking Congress to address in the CR, authorization for the Livestock Mandatory Reporting program and $501 million in new funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is reportedly considering moving a CR that would omit the Ukraine aid Biden wants, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell supports, and instead try to tie the Ukraine assistance to new funding for border security. 

A leading conservative firebrand, Texas Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, has been downplaying the impact of a government shutdown and demanding that Biden agree to major changes in immigration policy.

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“For everybody hand-wringing about a government shutdown for two or three weeks in October, how about the fact that we allow them to shut down the entire American economy, shut down our schools, put our kids in the corner forced them into masks, and they went to handling over two weeks of the frigging government shutting down? Come on,” Roy told Fox News last week.

A more moderate GOP lawmaker, North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong said at the Punchbowl News event that he has “no doubt” that addressing the spending situation ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline “won’t be smooth sailing. There’s going to be a lot of pent-up frustration, and we’re going to try to figure out how to get a path forward.”

Also this week, the House will consider a bill called the Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act that would block states from banning or trying to phase out motor vehicles with internal combustion engines.

The California Air Resources Board finalized regulations last year that would require all new light-duty vehicles to be zero emission by 2035, and the ban on gas-powered cars would likely extend to many other states. Under Section 177 of the Clean Air Act, other states may adopt California’s Advanced Clean Cars standards, and 17 currently follow some or all of the existing emissions rules.

The regulations still need EPA approval. In March, EPA gave California authority to require that half of all new heavy-duty vehicles sold in the state by 2035 be electric

The House bill has virtually no chance of becoming law, but it could signal the direction Republicans will take on a key part of Biden's climate policy should they win control of Congress and the presidency in 2024. 

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

Monday, Sept. 11

National Farmers Union fall legislative fly-in, through Wednesday.

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

Tuesday, Sept. 12

International Fresh Produce Association’s annual Washington Conference, through Friday, Grand Hyatt.

Noon — USDA releases the monthly Crop Production report and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates

Wednesday, Sept. 13

10 a.m. — House Financial Services Committee hearing on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), 2128 Rayburn. 

10 a.m. — Senate Budget Committee hearing, “Unlocking America’s Potential: How Immigration Fuels Economic Growth and Our Competitive Advantage,” 608 Dirksen.

Thursday, Sept. 14

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

Friday, Sept. 15

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