WASHINGTON, June 5, 2016 - Milk producers and snack food makers seek to keep the pressure on Congress this week to preempt state GMO labeling laws, while House Speaker Paul Ryan begins an effort to shape the GOP campaign agenda by rolling out proposals to overhaul anti-poverty programs.
Both the House and Senate are returning from a week-long Memorial Day recess for an abbreviated summer schedule ahead of the Republican and Democratic conventions in July.
The Senate has less than four weeks before Vermont’s GMO labeling law takes effect July 1. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, expressed some pessimism last week about chances for a deal after discussions with colleagues. It appears to be “very difficult to get a compromise,” Grassley told reporters.
But representatives of the National Milk Producers Federation and SNAC International, formerly the Snack Foods Association, will be pressing senators to agree on a preemption bill that would set national disclosure standards for biotech ingredients.
About 100 dairy farmers and executives of dairy cooperatives will be lobbying senators to make sure the bill clearly exempts animal products from having to be labeled as GMO, said spokesman Chris Galen.David Walsh, director of government affairs for the snack food group, said its member companies will “raise the message of urgency with which our industry needs a solution.”
“SNAC International has members both large and small – and none do business in just one state. For that reason, we need a national standard for GMO labeling in place, and one that does not stigmatize a safe and proven technology,” he said.
On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton looks to wrap up the Democratic presidential nomination with primaries in California, New Jersey and three other states, plus caucuses in North Dakota. The only voting left after Tuesday is in the District of Columbia on June 14.
According to RealClear Politics, Clinton had locked up at least 2,323 delegates heading into Sunday's Puerto Rico primary, including 547 super delegates. Some 2,382 delegates are needed to win to the Democratic nomination. There are 548 delegates at stake in California alone on Tuesday, and they will be divided proportionally to the vote results.
Ryan on Tuesday will unveil the first of a series of policy proposals, called “A Better Way,” that he hopes Republicans will run on this fall. He’ll announce his anti-poverty program at an addiction treatment facility, House of Help City of Hope, in Washington’s Anacostia neighborhood on Tuesday. Ryan has kept the details under wraps but he included federal nutrition programs among those he wanted to overhaul in ways that push recipients into jobs.
Ryan said in a weekend address that the “war on poverty is a stalemate at best. So we can keep doing the same things and getting the same results. Or, instead of trapping people in poverty, we can get them on the ladder of opportunity…reward work…open our economy so everyone can make the most of their lives.”
The House will vote this week on a bill, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016, that would weaken an EPA rule that tightens limits for ozone. Sponsors say the bill (HR 4775) would give states more time and flexibility to implement the standards.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council and the Fertilizer Institute joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a variety of chemical and petroleum groups in signing an April 18 letter supporting the bill.
Here’s a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere:
Monday, June 6
Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse travels to Hartford, Connecticut, to talk about USDA assistance to new and beginning farmers, during a roundtable with members of the state’s congressional delegation.
Noon - Heritage Foundation forum, “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy,” 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
1 p.m. - American Agri-Women symposium, “Rippling Effects of Aquifer Depletion,” 101 Constitution Ave., NW
4 p.m. - USDA releases Crop Progress report.
Tuesday, June 7
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Education Secretary John King visit a school in Petersburg, Virginia, to highlight the beginning of USDA’s annual Summer Food Service Program.
10:30 a.m. - Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee markup of fiscal 2017 bill, 138 Dirksen.
2:30 p.m. - Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee hearing, “Oversight of EPA Unfunded Mandates on State, Local, and Tribal Governments,” 406 Dirksen.
4:30 p.m. - American Agri-Women congressional reception, 1300 Longworth.
Wednesday, June 8
Scuse travels to Lithuania to promote the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and discuss bilateral trade issues.
2:30 p.m. - Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on implementation of the 2015 surface transportation bill, with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, 253 Russell.
2:30 p.m. - Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the H-2B temporary foreign worker program, 226 Dirksen.
6:45 p.m. - Food Research and Action Center benefit dinner honoring Vilsack and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Capital Hilton.
Thursday, June 9
8:30 a.m. - USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.
9:30 a.m. - Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on implications of the Supreme Court stay of EPA’s Clean Power Plan, 406 Dirksen.
10:30 a.m. - Senate Appropriations Committee markup of the FY17 Labor-HHS bill, 106 Dirksen.
10:45 a.m. - Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee hearing, “Revisiting the Appropriate Use of Agency Regulatory Guidance,” 342 Dirksen.
2 p.m. - House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, 2154 Rayburn.
Friday, June 10
In Lithuania, Scuse holds press conference with Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė.