WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2017 - The House plans to finish work this week on a giant, eight-bill appropriations measure as lawmakers look to set up negotiations with the Senate on a fiscal 2018 budget agreement.
The House measure combines bills that fund nearly all the departments and agencies important to agriculture, including USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, the Interior and Labor departments, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The 2018 budget year begins Oct. 1, but the House and Senate have until Dec. 8 to reach an agreement on FY18 spending after the House gave final congressional approval on Friday to a bill that extends the government’s spending authority for three months.
That measure, approved by the House 316-90, also will provide more than $15 billion in hurricane relief while increasing the federal debt ceiling and extending for three months the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, which authorizes fees and requirements for the registration process. PRIA is due to expire at the end of this month and lawmakers are still trying to agree on a replacement bill.
Also this week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will speak to leaders of the National Farmers Union on Monday, when the group goes to the Agriculture Department as part of its annual fly-in.
Perdue will also go to New Orleans this week and speak to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture on Thursday during its annual meeting. The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, will address NASDA on Tuesday.
The NASDA meeting comes as two of its members, Bill Northey of Iowa and Greg Ibach of Nebraska, are awaiting Senate confirmation to top positions at USDA, Northey to be undersecretary of farm and conservation programs and Ibach to be undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the Senate Agriculture Committee continues its preparation for the new farm bill by holding a hearing Thursday on nutrition programs.
The House began debate on the eight-bill FY18 appropriations measure last week and will resume voting on amendments to the Interior-Environment section before moving on to the remaining three sections of the bill, including Labor-Health and Human Services.
The House last week adopted an amendment to the Interior-Environment section that would prevent livestock operations from having to report air emissions of hazardous substances, potentially circumventing an appeals court ruling.
On Friday, the House adopted an amendment that would restrict the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency or the Interior Department from paying legal fees for settlement of cases under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
Votes are still pending on two message-sending proposals, one amendment by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., that would block EPA from closing or consolidating regional offices, and another by Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., to slash EPA’s budget by $1.9 billion.
Here’s a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere:
Monday, Sept. 11
National Farmers Union legislative fly-in, through Wednesday. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue addresses the group Monday morning.
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture annual meeting, through Thursday, New Orleans.
4 p.m. - USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report.
Tuesday, Sept. 12
NASDA annual meeting.
10 a.m. - House Natural Resources Committee markup of endangered species bills, 1334 Longworth.
2:30 p.m. - House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing, “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Rail Stakeholders’ Perspectives,” 2167 Rayburn.
Wednesday, Sept. 13
NASDA annual meeting.
8:30 a.m. - USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.
10 a.m. - House Natural Resources committee continues markup of bills, 1334 Longworth.
10 a.m. - Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on potential reforms to guest workers programs and the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program, 226 Dirksen.
Noon - “National Save the U.S. EPA Day” press conference, National Press Club.
Thursday, Sept. 14
Organic Trade Association All Things Organic conference, through Friday, Baltimore.
NASDA annual meeting.
9:30 a.m. - Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on farm bill nutrition programs, 216 Hart.
Friday, Sept. 15
OTA All Things Organic conference.
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