WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2012 – With just three legislative days left before members of the U.S. House of Representatives leave town until after the November elections, it seems incredibly unlikely that the GOP-controlled body will be able to pass a new five-year farm bill before the current one expires on Sept. 30.
The House is taking off Monday and Tuesday in observance of the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah, and plans to work Wednesday through Friday. After that, Congress will recess until after the elections and return Nov. 13.
Speaking on the House floor Friday, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Republicans were still looking for “a way forward” on a new five-year farm bill but did not commit to a vote. Several conservative members of his caucus are adamantly opposed to passing the measure without further cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as the food stamp program. They want to delay a vote until after the election.
Some Hill sources remain convinced that Cantor never actually whipped the vote on passage of the actual House Ag Committee’s bill, sensing that many in his caucus would be unwilling to vote before the election on a five-year package that costs about $1 trillion. At the same time, the delay puts several freshman members - especially those who face tough re-election bids - in the unenviable position of having to either defend their own inability to move the bill or bash their own leadership.
A few dozen have signed on to a discharge petition in an effort to force GOP leaders to bring up the Agriculture Committee’s bill. As of Sunday night, the petition had a net 51 signatures, with Congressmen Scott Tipton, R-CO, and Renee Ellmers, R-NC, signing and later withdrawing.
For his part, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., is trying to find some type of path forward with Cantor, Speaker Boehner and other leaders. Now he’s trying to see if there are enough votes for a short-term extension, possibly for three-months, that would basically include livestock disaster provisions and a continuation of the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) payments at a higher level - in anticipation of a vote on the full package after the election.
On Friday, 60 members of Congress wrote a letter to Speaker Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., expressing concern about reduced protection in the MILC program as the current farm bill expires and urging leaders to “find the necessary offsets to maintain the MILC program at its previous coverage levels for the duration of any extension of current policy.” (See www.agri-pulse.com/Congress-members-request-adjustments-MILC-09142012.asp ) That letter was led by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and in the House by Rep. Reed Ribble, R-Wis., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt..
But finding at least 218 votes for any type of extension may still be an uphill climb.
Most major farm organizations oppose any type of extension, preferring to take their chances on the House floor for a final package that can be reconciled with the Senate-passed package before the end of the year. Chairman Lucas tried for a one-year extension in late July, only to fall short and ultimately pull the bill for lack of support.
Speaking on the House floor on Friday, Ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., also said he would oppose a three-month extension at this time. Peterson, who was chairman during development of the 2008 farm bill, led farm bill extensions while he was trying to get the last farm bill passed. But, with the exception of dairy, Peterson said the short-term extension is unnecessary now since most farm safety net payments will not be needed until the spring wheat crop is harvested.
The MILC program expires on Sept. 30, 2012 and dairy price supports and export incentives expired on Dec. 31, 2012.
For other events and reports this week:
Monday, September 17
USDA Reports: Crop Progress
Tuesday, September 18
Secretary Vilsack will participate in the Ohio Farm Science Review in London, OH.
Wednesday, September 19
Deputy Secretary Merrigan will give opening remarks at Tufts 5th Tea & Health Symposium in Washington, DC
Deputy Secretary Merrigan will participate in the National Council on Federal Labor Management Relations meeting in Washington, DC
9:30 a.m., Senate Energy and Natural Resources: Subcommittee on Water and Power, Hearings to examine S.3265, SD 366
10: 00 a.m. The Senate will resume consideration of S.3457, the Veterans Jobs Corps Act. The time until 12:00pm will be equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders or their designees. It is in order for Senator McConnell or his designee to raise a budget point of order against the substitute amendment #2789. If a budget point of order is raised, the Majority Leader, or his designee, will be recognized for a motion to waive the applicable budget points of order.
At 12:00 pm, there will be a roll call vote on the motion to waive the budget act with respect to the substitute amendment. Following the roll call vote, the Majority Leader will be recognized. Following his remarks, the Senate will recess until 2:15pm to allow for the weekly caucus meetings. At 2:15pm, there will be additional roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.J.Res.117, the Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2013.
The House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.
Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 6060 - Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Extension Act of 2012 (Sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop / Natural Resources Committee)
2) H.R. 5987 - Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Doc Hastings / Natural Resources Committee)
3) H.R. 1461 - Mescalero Apache Tribe Leasing Authorization Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Stevan Pearce) / Natural Resources Committee)
4) H.R. 3319 - To allow the Pascua Yaqui Tribe to determine the requirements for membership in that tribe (Sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva / Natural Resources Committee)
5) H.R. 6324 - Cutting Federal Unnecessary and Expensive Leasing Act of 2012 (Sponsored by Rep. Richard Hanna / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
6) H.R. 4158 - To confirm full ownership rights for certain United States astronauts to artifacts from the astronauts’ space missions (Sponsored by Rep. Ralph Hall / Science, Space and Technology Committee)
7) H.R. 6375 - To authorize certain Department of Veterans Affairs major medical facility projects and leases, to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend certain authorities of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
8) H.R. 5948 - Veterans Fiduciary Reform Act of 2012, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Johnson / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
9) H.R. 3099 - Buffett Rule Act of 2011, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise / Ways and Means Committee)
10) H.R. 5044 - Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Scott DesJarlais / Ways and Means Committee)
11) H.R. 2827 - To amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to clarify provisions relating to the regulation of municipal advisors, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Robert Dold / Financial Services Committee)
12) H.R. 6361 - Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act of 2012, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck / Financial Services Committee)
13) H.R. __ - To provide flexibility with respect to U.S. support for assistance provided by international financial institutions for Burma, and for other purposes (Financial Services Committee)
14) H.R. 2903 - FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2011, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Denham / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee / Homeland Security Committee)
15) H.R. 3110 - Grape Region Accelerated Production and Efficiency Act of 2011 (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Reed / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
16) H.R. 6368 - Border Security Information Improvement Act of 2012 (Sponsored by Rep. Quico Canseco / Judiciary Committee)
17) H.R. 5912 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prohibit the use of public funds for political party conventions, and to provide for the return of previously distributed funds for deficit reduction, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole / House Administration Committee)
18) H.R. 6296 - Disaster Loan Fairness Act of 2012, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta / Small Business Committee)
19) H.R. 5910 - Global Investment in American Jobs Act of 2012, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Robert Dold / Energy and Commerce Committee)
20) H.R. 4212 - Contaminated Drywall Safety Act of 2012, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Scott Rigell / Energy and Commerce Committee)
21) H.R. 4124 - Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Adam Kinzinger / Energy and Commerce Committee)
22) H.R. 6163 - National Pediatric Research Network Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers / Energy and Commerce Committee)
23) H.R. 6118 - Taking Essential Steps for Testing Act (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Grimm / Energy and Commerce Committee)
24) H.R. 733 - Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act of 2012, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo / Energy and Commerce Committee)
25) H.R. 3783 - Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan / Foreign Affairs Committee)
26) H.Res. 526 - Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect toward the establishment of a democratic and prosperous Republic of Georgia and the establishment of a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict with Georgia's internationally recognized borders, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Foreign Affairs Committee)
27) H.Res. __ - Honoring the four United States public servants who died in Libya and condemning the attacks on United States diplomatic facilities in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen (Sponsored by Rep. John Boehner / Foreign Affairs Committee)
Thursday, September 20
Deputy Secretary Merrigan will give remarks at the Organic Trade Association in Baltimore, MD
12:00 p.m., Hearing: Sequestration: The Threat to Small Businesses, Jobs, and the Industrial Base, Host: Committee on Small Business | Full Committee
10:00 a.m., Hearing: Forty Years after the Clean Water Act: Is it Time for the States to Implement Section 404 Permitting?, Host: Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure | Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, 2253 Rayburn HOB
10:00 am, Environment and Public Works, Hearings to examine the "Water Resources Development Act", focusing on growing the economy and protecting public safety.
On Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.
H.R. __ - STEM Jobs Act of 2012 (Suspension, 40 minutes of Debate) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Judiciary Committee)
H.J.Res. 118 - Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Office of Family Assistance of the Administration for Children and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services relating to waiver and expenditure authority under section 1115 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1315) with respect to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp / Ways and Means Committee / Education and the Workforce Committee) H.R. 3409 - Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Johnson / Natural Resources Committee / Energy and Commerce Committee / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
USDA Reports: US Export Sales
Friday, September 21
On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.
Deputy Secretary Merrigan will speak at the Public Markets Conference, Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit and tour Green City Growers greenhouse in Cleveland, OH (open press).
9:30 a.m., Hearing: The LightSquared Network: An Investigation of the FCC's Role, Host: Committee on Energy and Commerce | Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, 2123 Rayburn HOB
For more news, go to: www.Agri-Pulse.com