By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Oct. 3 – Yesterday, Washington was filled with liberals calling for jobs and universal healthcare. Civil rights, trade union and student leaders were addressing the “One Nation Working Together” rally which stretched from the Lincoln memorial to the World War II memorial. But the weekend rally may go down as “the last hurrah” before November's voters put Republicans back in charge of the House and perhaps the Senate as well.

With the prospect of a strong GOP showing at the polls, politicians from both sides introduced a flood of new bills last week. Democrats clearly hope to pass at least something on the energy/environmental front while they still are the majority party for the lame-duck session this fall – such as the bills proposed by Senate Energy Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to create new renewable energy tax breaks and to establish a Renewable Electricity Standard.

Key to the Bingaman bills is that they have Republican co-sponsors, essential for any bill to have a hope of even securing floor debate in the sharply divided Senate where filibustering rules. On the Republican side, senators have introduced bills to block administration initiatives – such as bills that would block the EPA from imposing new greenhouse gas or pesticide regulations and a bill from Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) which would re-authorize federal purchase of Canadian tar sands oil.

In another sign of how November election prospects are dominating Washington life, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will spend Tuesday in Arkansas with Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in an administration effort to help the embattled Senate Agriculture Committee Chair win her uphill reelection fight. The pair will meet with business and commodity groups “for events focused on job creation and agricultural trade issues impacting Arkansas.”

With the politicians out of town on the campaign trail, more attention will focus on a first this week: the opening of the Supreme Court's new term, when for the first time women Justices will hold three of the Court's nine seats.

Another focus of attention this week will be food safety. In the wake of a series of food recalls and congressional insistence on a more preventive federal approach to save lives and bring the U.S. up to international standards, Food & Drug Administrator Margaret Hamburg will address food safety in a National Press Club speech

USDA’s Economic Research Service & National Agricultural Statistics Service reports:

  • Monday, October 4, Dairy Products, Crop Progress

  • Tuesday, October 5, Weather-Crop Summary

  • Wednesday October 6, Broiler Hatchery

  • Friday, October 8, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, Cotton Ginnings, Crop Production, Dairy Products Prices, Peanut Prices

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