President Joe Biden pitches his $2.7 trillion infrastructure package to lawmakers from both parties this week, while Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will testify before House appropriators on the heels of Biden proposing a huge increase in spending for USDA.
A bill to expand the H-2A farm worker visa program and provide legal status to existing agricultural employees is headed to the House floor despite strong opposition from Republicans who derided it as a “massive amnesty” measure.
House Democrats are about to attempt something that Washington hasn’t been done in over three decades: Enact immigration reforms that would give farmers better access to foreign workers while offering legal status to their existing employees.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a Clean Water Act case with major implications for agriculture, while farm groups who back a bipartisan ag labor bill will be lobbying lawmakers ahead of an expected House committee debate.
Despite President Donald Trump’s ongoing battle with lawmakers over funding a border wall, preliminary efforts are underway both at the White House and in the House to craft immigration legislation that could address the labor shortage in agriculture.
House Democrats have named the key subcommittee leaders who will play critical roles in agriculture and food policy, and they range from veterans steeped in past battles to a first-term lawmaker who is a former CIA operations officer.
Iowa Rep. Steve King, who represents one of the most agriculturally intensive districts in the nation, is being stripped of his House committee assignments, including senior positions on the Agriculture and Judiciary panels, as punishment for his latest racially insensitive comments.
The Democrats taking over House committees and subcommittees will push back hard against the Trump administration’s environmental policies and put a major focus on climate change, but ag groups will need to find allies on trade and other key issues.