July 31, 2012
On Tuesday, July 31, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that the House and Senate had reached a deal on a six-month continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded at FY 2012 levels through March.
It has been reported that the CR will be a “clean extension,” with no additional changes in mandatory program spending and no additional non-germane policy riders. However, we have yet to confirm these details.
A clean CR would likely include existing language from the FY 2012 appropriations bill that limits USDA’s ability to implement the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA) contract fairness rule; however, it would not contain extremist language that forces USDA to rescind existing pieces of the GIPSA final rule USDA began to implement late last year. That unprecedented language is included in the FY 2013 House Agriculture Appropriations bill, as passed out of the House Appropriations Committee. As such, we strongly urge USDA to continue to investigate contract violations and to enforce the rule to help producers across the country, and we will continue to oppose the rider when the FY 2013 bill is finalized next March.
The CR is said to be written to a top line discretionary spending cap of $1.047 trillion over ten years, which is the level agreed to by Democrats and Republicans in the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. A revision made to the FY 2013 House Budget Resolution in May allows the House to appropriate to the BCA level, despite having first voted to cap spending at $1.028 trillion.
As we reported last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2013 agriculture appropriations bill on April 26, while the House Committee passed its bill on June 19; however, neither chamber has brought its bill to the floor.
The House has thus far passed six of the 12 spending bills this year, while the Senate has passed none. A six-month extension would allow Congress to avoid a spending and/or government shut down show down during the lame duck session.
Before the expiration of a six-month CR, both chambers would resume consideration of their FY 2013 agriculture appropriations bills. At that point, Congress could pass the agriculture bill individually but will more likely wrap them into a larger “omnibus” package with all the other appropriations bills. The final appropriations bill next March would be for only half a fiscal year as the first half of the fiscal year would already be over.
It is not yet clear when the text of the CR will be released. However, the bill is unlikely to be voted upon before the August recess, which begins next week and lasts through the first week of September.