David Rogers reported on Friday at Politico that, “Threats of a government shutdown next week had all but disappeared by late Friday as Democrats reacted favorably to a Republican plan [related bill] that would keep agencies operating past Mar. 4 while making a first down payment toward a larger budget deal.
“The two-week peace is only temporary but gives House and Senate leaders through March 18 to try to resolve conservative demands for more than $60 billion in spending cuts, all concentrated in the second half of this fiscal year.
“A first installment of $4 billion in savings would be part of the deal now and Republicans have said they will insist on $2 billion more in cuts for each additional week the talks continue past the new deadline. The novel approach is one devised by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), trying to keep pace with his large freshman class while avoiding the same sort of shutdown that so hurt Republicans in the 1990’s when they confronted then President Bill Clinton.”
Manu Raju reported yesterday at Politico that, “Top Senate Democrats have informed the White House that they are putting together a seven-month continuing resolution that will include some spending cuts outlined in President Barack Obama’s proposed 2012 budget, according to a Democratic aide with knowledge of the negotiations.
“Democratic leadership aides and Senate Appropriations Committee staff are putting this plan together in hopes of averting the need for a short-term budget bill before the government runs out of money on March 4. Democrats said they want to propose a plan that will show their commitment to cut future spending that goes beyond their calls to freeze domestic discretionary spending over five years.”
Jonathan Allen reported yesterday at Politico that, “House Republicans plan to pass a two-week stopgap spending bill next week that would keep the government running past March 4 at reduced levels, GOP aides told POLITICO Wednesday.
“Republican aides say the cuts in the two-week spending bill would be proportional — or pro-rated — to reflect the levels in the first measure. That means cutting about $4 billion over two weeks. The plan is tentative and the contours of the measure are still being crafted.”
David M. Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse reported in today’s New York Times that, “As the strategic jockeying in a fight over federal spending kicked into high gear, the Republican House speaker, John A. Boehner, said on Tuesday that it was up to the White House and the Democrats who control the Senate to agree to at least some Republican-backed cuts to help reach a short-term deal and avoid a government shutdown early next month.
“Senate Democrats, saying more time is needed to reach a longer-term agreement, are calling for a 30-day extension that would continue to hold spending generally at last year’s levels, but Republicans say that is not enough.”
Todd Neeley reported on Friday at DTN (link requires subscription) that, “State officials, agriculture groups and pesticide retailers say more time is needed to implement new pesticide permitting rules coming down from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in separate letters sent to EPA and Congress in recent weeks.
“Groups and individuals are pressuring EPA and Congress to step in before a court-mandated April 9 deadline to implement the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES permits for pesticide applications.
“The program could require farmers to obtain pesticide permits depending on where they live.”
Budget Issues: Continuing Resolution- FY 2011- Political Background
David Rogers reported on Saturday at Politico that, “More a battering ram than a budget, a giant government-wide spending bill passed the House early Saturday morning, packing $60 billion in Republican spending cuts together with scores of legislative riders to impede President Barack Obama in carrying out his policies.
“Final passage came on a 235-189 vote shortly before dawn, capping an all-night session and marathon week during which literally hundreds of amendments were debated.”
House and Senate Agriculture Committee Hearings on the Farm Economy: Background
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spent nearly four hours testifying about the U.S. farm economy yesterday on Capitol Hill.
During his appearances before the two committees, lawmakers raised a variety of subject matters, including: Biotechnology, conservation, the proposed GIPSA rule, nutrition, trade, the estate tax, and civil rights.
However, larger themes also emerged from yesterday’s hearings. These themes included commodity prices; land values and economic stability; regulation; dairy policy; and crop insurance.
Farm Bill: Budget Issues- Political Background- FY 2012 Budget Request
Shira Toeplitz reported yesterday at Politico that, “Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner trekked back up to Capitol Hill Wednesday for his second day of defending President Barack Obama’s proposed budget, arguing [at a Senate Finance Committee hearing] that a gradual approach to tackling debt is smarter than a sudden, sharp spending-cut strategy, in light of the wobbly economy.
“‘First, we must lower deficits over a multi-year period to stabilize or reduce the national debt as a share of the economy,’ Geithner said in his prepared remarks. ‘Deficit reduction needs to be gradual to avoid endangering the recovery.’”
Farm Bill: Budget Issues- Political Background- FY 2012 Budget Request
Josh Gerstein reported yesterday at Politico that, “President Barack Obama used his first press conference of the year Tuesday to defend his new budget plan against critics who say it doesn’t move quickly enough to cut the federal government’s massive deficit and fails to confront the difficult choices needed to reform ballooning entitlement programs.
“‘You guys are pretty impatient. If something doesn’t happen today, then the assumption is it isn’t going to happen,’ Obama said. ‘My goal here is to actually solve the problem….It’s not to get a good headline on the first day.’”
The article stated that, “Obama denied that by failing to propose major entitlement reforms he was abandoning the plan presented in December by most members of a bipartisan commission he set up to tackle the nation’s grim fiscal picture.”
David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that, “Monday’s release of President Barack Obama’s new 2012 budget puts in sharp focus the week-long brawl that lies ahead in the House, as newly empowered Republicans seek to deal a crippling blow to the president’s agenda, at home and abroad.
“Obama appears to have hurt his cause by not being more bold in approaching the debt problem facing the nation. At the same time, what began for Republicans as a budget-cutting exercise has grown into more of raw power play.”
Naftali Bendavid explained in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “The battle over federal spending will unfold this week in two separate but related fights. Congress and the White House must devise a plan to fund the government for the rest of the current fiscal year while simultaneously debating a spending plan for next year.
“On Monday, the House begins debating a Republican spending plan for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
“The plan is needed because the last Congress failed to pass appropriations to cover the entire year. Government operations are currently being funded by a stopgap spending measure that expires March 4.”
“In a stinging rebuke to party leadership, Republicans on the Appropriations Committee abandoned plans to seek only $74 billion in cuts just hours before their continuing resolution was set to be unveiled.”
“The abrupt reversal set off a mad scramble among Republican staffers to scrape together the extra cuts in time to unveil the final spending resolution by Friday.”