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Ten-Year Budget Plans Move Forward

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.

Recap

Given how confusing the appropriations and budgeting process can be, here is a quick recap of what has gone on this week:

  • The House passed the final FY 2013 appropriations bill yesterday.  The bill funds the government until September 30, 2013, and will now go the president for his signature.  See our earlier blog post for detailed information on the appropriations bill.
  • The House Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations accepted external funding requests as it begins to consider FY 2014 agriculture appropriations.
  • The House passed its FY 2014 budget resolution yesterday.  The budget resolution guides, but is separate from, the appropriations process.  While not the law of the land, the bill outlines how much money House committees can spend in FY 2014 and over the next ten years.  Our blog post from last Thursday provides details on both the House and Senate budgets as introduced.
  • There is no expectation that the two budget resolutions will directly lead to any budget deals later this spring.  Rather they stake out competing partisan positions that will form the backdrop for ongoing discussions between the White House and congressional leaders as they continue to try to avert the possibility of the country defaulting on its debt when the current temporary suspension of the national debt limit runs out on May 18.

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.


Categories: Budget and Appropriations, Farm Bill


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