WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2016 - The first presidential debate is in the books. Donald Trump had some of his strongest moments in the debate’s first 20 minutes as he went after Hillary Clinton repeatedly on trade policy and accused her of flip-flopping on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

Trump accused Clinton of secretly supporting the TPP, although she came out against it after the deal was announced last fall. “You know that if you did win, you would approve that, and that will be almost as bad as NAFTA,” Trump said, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

Trump also attacked Clinton on regulations, saying she would expand on President Obama’s agenda.

Clinton tried to take a more nuanced position on trade, pointing out that trade is critical to the U.S. economy. “We are 5 percent of the world's population; we have to trade with the other 95 percent. And we need to have smart, fair trade deals”

As the debate wore on, Clinton and moderator Lester Holt put Trump on the defensive with questions about the birther issue and his refusal to release his tax returns. At one point, Trump seemed to concede Clinton’s claim that he doesn’t pay federal taxes. He said his taxes would be “squandered.”

The next presidential debate is Oct. 9.

Stabenow optimistic on child nutrition. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., says she is optimistic about a path forward for a child nutrition bill. The Senate Ag Committee’s top Democrat told reporters Monday that there were still a few questions being asked about the bill, but committee chair Pat Roberts, R-Kan., was working to get them answered.

“We are close to a point now where we can try to get unanimous consent to pass this in the Senate,” she said. “We’re working to do that. We’re close, but not done yet.”

Roberts and Stabenow are trying to clear a bill through the Senate that passed unanimously out of the Senate Ag Committee earlier this year. 

Biofuel tax benefits could see lame duck action. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., says Congress could act on a series of expiring biofuel tax breaks in December. The $1-a-gallon tax credit that subsidizes biodiesel as well as tax benefits for cellulosic ethanol and ethanol blender pumps all expire on Dec. 31 unless lawmakers renew them. 

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, has been opposed to considering any tax extenders this year, but McCarthy indicated the issue will be on the agenda for the lame duck session. “It will be a discussion when we come back” after the election, he told reporters. “The tax extenders are always at the end of whatever we’re doing.”

Catfish producers catch a break. The Senate voted 55-43 in May to approve a resolution that would kill the rule under which USDA’s catfish inspection program operates. 

But in a victory for U.S. catfish producers, House Republican leaders now say they won’t be scheduling a vote on the resolution because it divides the Republican caucus, said a leadership aide. 

House GOP holding out to bar sage grouse listing. House-Senate negotiations over a defense authorization bill are being held up - at least in part - over a House-passed provision that would bar the sage grouse from being listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

House negotiators have insisted on keeping the provision in the final bill, and McCarthy gave no indication that they’re going to give in on the issue. “This is a position the House has taken, and it should stay in,” McCarthy said. 

House takes up WRDA. The House is scheduled to debate its water projects authorization bill today. Passing the bill will set up negotiations with the Senate on legislation that could be finalized in the lame duck session. The bill would authorize spending of $3.8 billion on waterways, ports and other projects over 10 years. 

OMB expresses concerns about WRDA bill. The White House Office of Management and Budget released a statement last night critical of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (HR 5303). There is a lot in the bill that OMB said it approves of, such as authorizing several new projects that are “likely to provide high economic or environmental returns” and “address a significant risk to public safety.” 

But the OMB also criticized lawmakers’ failure to include a new funding mechanism for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. The Obama Administration has previously proposed raising $1.3 billion over 10 years by raising fees for commercial river users.

Vilsack to propose ways for companies to boost food donations. Food waste is a global problem and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will give the public an update today on how the Department has been working with industry to make it easier for companies to donate food instead of trash it. Vilsack will be giving the keynote address at the National Food Rescue Summit

About 30 percent of all the food produced in the U.S. – about 133 billion pounds worth roughly $161 billion – goes to waste every year while 17.4 million people do not get enough to eat, according to USDA data in an announcement of Vilsack’s speech.

Danish trade mission to visit Walmart and USDA. The Danish trade mission that arrives today in the U.S. will be visiting both the Walmart Supercenter on H Street and the USDA headquarters on Jefferson Drive in Washington D.C. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday the delegation will be meeting with Walmart officials to discuss issues such as the company’s import needs, shopper trends and GMO-labelling.

And then it’s on to USDA Thursday where Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse will host Danish Minister for Environment & Food Esben Lunde Larsen and the rest of the mission for a roundtable meeting on the TransatlanticTrade and Investment Partnership and the “food and agricultural trade between U.S. and Denmark, and how to facilitate better cooperation in the future.”

Phil Brasher and Spencer Chase contributed to this report.



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