January 18, 2020

Farm Bill; Animal Ag; Ag Economy; and, Trade

Farm Bill Issues: Focus on the House

Late last week, Pete Kasperowicz reported at The Hill’s Floor Action Blog that, “The House next week is expected to take up two bills that would continue the GOP’s trend of seeking cuts to 2013 spending levels.

“The Transportation and Housing and Urban Development spending bill, H.R. 5972; [while], “the second spending bill would fund the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and related agencies. This bill, H.R. 5973, spends $19.4 billion, a $365 million cut from current levels.”

The Hill update, which was posted on Friday morning, added that, “GOP leaders have indicated that both of these bills will be up next week — the House has already approved four of the 12 annual spending bills, and approving these two next week would bring the House to the halfway mark before the July 4 break.”

However, David Rogers reported on Friday afternoon at Politico that, “Having delayed a farm bill markup in deference to an agriculture appropriations bill due on the floor next week, the House Republican leadership confirmed Friday that the $19.4 billion appropriations measure isn’t likely to come up either before the July Fourth recess.

“Instead Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has assigned the first slot to a transportation appropriations bill which will be called up Tuesday night. Given the press of other legislation—and some annual social events for lawmakers—both the leader’s office and the Appropriations Committee signaled that it is unlikely the agriculture measure will make it to the floor before the holiday.

“House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) was described as unfazed. But just days ago, Cantor asked him to delay any action on the farm bill precisely because of the conflict. Why the leader didn’t follow through and schedule the agriculture appropriations first next week is unclear. But it is sure to feed into doubts that he and top GOP leaders really want to move on a farm bill this summer at all.”

Mr. Rogers noted that, “Cantor’s office insists that is not the case and he is not saying ‘no’ to a farm bill this year. But his top advisers admit too that they were taken by surprise this week when the Senate completed its farm bill with bipartisan support…‘[R]egardless of how the schedule progresses next week, we have assurances from leadership that House consideration of the [agriculture appropriations] bill will not interfere with our scheduled farm bill markup on July 11,’ said a spokesperson for the chairman.”