March 22, 2013
On Thursday, March 21, the House voted 221-207 to pass its FY 2014 budget resolution, which provides a spending blueprint for the next ten years. The vote saw 10 Republicans join all of the Democrats in opposition.
The Senate is currently debating its own FY 2014 budget resolution and voting on lots of amendments. The current expectation is they will finish their amendment voting marathon late Friday or early Saturday and then vote on final passage. If time runs out before they finish, they might postpone final passage until after the upcoming congressional recess during Easter and Passover.
Given how confusing the appropriations and budgeting process can be, here is a quick recap of what has gone on this week:
House Budget Resolution
The House FY 2014 budget resolution that passed yesterday cuts farm bill spending by $184 billion over ten years. Of this total, $135 billion would come from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), $31 billion in cuts would be split between commodity program and crop insurance subsidies, and roughly $18 billion would come from cuts to farm bill conservation title spending.
If the House Agriculture Committee were to take the House budget resolution seriously, the huge size of the cut to farm and food spending would effectively end any chance of getting a new farm bill written and passed, this year or perhaps ever. Yet, only two House Republicans who are members of the House Agriculture Committee voted against the resolution — Representatives Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Chris Gibson (R-NY).
Senate Budget Resolution
The Senate is currently debating amendments to its own FY 2014 budget resolution. In contrast to the House budget resolution, the Senate resolution cuts farm bill spending by roughly $23 billion, which would come entirely from commodity and crop insurance spending. Unlike the House’s proposal, this proposal does create a viable path for getting a farm bill done this year because the cuts are smaller and more consistent with the cuts that Senate and the House Agriculture Committee accepted as part of the last year’s farm bill debate.
Yesterday, the Senate voted on an amendment to replace the pending Senate budget resolution with the House-passed resolution, including its $184 billion in proposed farm bill cuts. The amendment failed, 40-59, with five Republicans voting with all of the Democrats in opposition. All Senate Agriculture Committee Republicans voted in favor of the measure.
Unfortunately, several harmful amendments have been filed, including amendments to undermine wetland protections established by the Clean Water Act and to force USDA to undertake an unnecessary audit the Value-Added Producer Grants program, as well as several frivolous amendments such as one to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from conducting aerial surveys of farms. We expect some of these harmful amendments to come up for a vote, though none of them to pass.