Republican lawmakers head to Philadelphia on Wednesday for their two-day retreat, and Trump is expected to visit. Trump will receive his first foreign leader on Friday, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and he'll meet Mexican President Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Jan. 31. Trade is expected to be a major topic in both meetings.
In one of the administration's first acts last Friday, the White House ordered delays in regulations that had not yet taken effect. That action delays a new Agriculture Department rule that sets standards of proof for livestock and poultry producers who believe they have been harmed by processors' business practices. Some industry groups will be pressuring Trump's nominee for agriculture secretary, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, to scrap the rule.
David Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said the USDA's release of the marketing rule in December “was a political decision that was shoved down our throats by the last administration, which ironically will result in more concentration. We are confident the incoming administration will kill it.”
That job would fall on Perdue, whose nomination was announced on Thursday, just ahead of Trump's inauguration. He attended the agricultural inaugural ball at the Grand Hyatt Friday night. Perdue spoke briefly from the stage and mingled in the crowd afterward.
Also on Friday, the agricultural adviser for Trump's presidential campaign, Sam Clovis, took charge of hiring and policy implementation.
The next major nomination at USDA is expected to be for deputy secretary, the department's No. 2 who is traditionally in charge of day-to-day operations. Several members of Trump's Agricultural Advisory Committee are believed to be under consideration for the job including Nebraska agribusinessman Charles W. Herbster; Indiana farmer Kip Tom; Indiana's agriculture director, Ted McKinney; and A.G. Kawamura, a former California agriculture secretary and a fruit and vegetable grower in Orange County.
Trump appears to be wasting little time in pursuing his trade priorities. In his inaugural address, Trump made clear that he would focus on shifting U.S. trade policy to enforcing and renegotiating existing agreements. “We've made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon,” he said.
Trump has said he wants to complete a bilateral trade deal with the United Kingdom after it leaves the European Union. And he spoke by phone on Saturday to the leaders of the other two members of the North American Free-Trade Agreement, which Trump has pledged to renegotiate: Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that Trump and Trudeau discussed setting up additional meetings, while Trump and Peña Nieto discussed a planned Jan. 31 meeting on trade, immigration and security issues.
The Senate, meanwhile, has confirmed two Trump cabinet officials on Friday, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security secretary John Kelly. Next up is Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, nominated to run the CIA. The Senate is scheduled to vote on him Monday evening. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday will consider the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general.
Also this week, a bill that sponsors say would improve phone call quality in rural areas begins to move in the House and the Senate.
The House will vote Monday on the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act, sponsored by Iowa Republican David Young, which would require the Federal Communications Commission to issue service quality standards for companies that carry long-distance calls in rural areas from providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.
The bill is intended to improve the quality of landline or wireless calls that rural residents receive on their landline phones. The intermedia, third-party providers are currently not required to register with the FCC or meet its standards.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will take up on Tuesday a similar version of the bill, cosponsored by Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., and Democrats Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Jon Tester of Montana.
During a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing last fall, the president of McClure Telephone Co. in Ohio, Lance Miller, said on behalf of the NTCA-Rural Broadband Association that “more must be done to ensure that call quality and reliability improves and that no entity may unreasonably discriminate against consumers and businesses in rural America.”
Here's a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere:
Monday, Jan. 23
Noon - American Enterprise Institute hosts a forum, “Poverty, hunger, agricultural policy: Do farm programs affect the nutrition of poor Americans?” 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
Tuesday, Jan. 24
All day - Heritage Foundation forum on antitrust policy, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
10 a.m. - Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee marks up legislation, including the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act, 253 Russell.
10 a.m. - Senate Judiciary Committee considers nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, 226 Dirksen.
10:30 a.m. - Senate Budget Committee confirmation hearing for Mick Mulvaney to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, 608 Dirksen.
11:30 a.m. - House Appropriations Committee holds an organizational meeting, 2359 Rayburn.
2:30 p.m. - Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing for Mulvaney to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, 342 Dirksen.
Wednesday, Jan. 25
Congressional Republican retreat, Philadelphia, through Friday.
Thursday, Jan. 26
9 a.m. - USDA releases monthly Food Price Outlook.
2 p.m. - USDA Biotechnology Regulatory Services hosts conference call to explain its proposed rule to change Part 340 regulatory process for genetically engineered organisms.
Friday, Jan. 27