Lucas indicated that the committee bill (H.R. 6083), with its $35 billion in savings over 10 years, has garnered leaders’ attention and that some leaders had told the caucus that resolving the “farm bill issue” was on a list of seven to eight items for the post-election session.
Still, members still cannot agree on proposed nutrition cuts. The bill would reduce spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, by $16 billion over 10 years, and many GOP members would like to see cuts twice that amount.
In June, the Senate passed their version of the bill (S. 3240), and proposed smaller cuts to SNAP, at $4.5 billion over 10 years.
Senate Agriculture Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) suggested on November 14 that leaders consider her committee’s bill if they are looking for savings to include in a deficit reduction package to avert the fiscal cliff.
However, she said she could not support using the House farm bill as it is now written because of the size of its SNAP cuts. The two committee bills also reflect regional differences in the way they structure their programs for such crops as corn, soybeans, rice and peanuts.
Despite a push from Congressman Don Young (R-AK), the House’s ban on earmarks will remain intact for the next Congress.
Young offered, then at the request of GOP leaders, withdrew a proposal at the House GOP organizational meeting Thursday that would have changed the rules of the GOP Conference to allow members to bring earmarks with some conditions. The new rules would have banned earmarks, “except if the recipient of the earmark is the federal government, a state or a unit of local government; the member sponsoring such earmark is identified; the earmark is initiated in committee; and the earmark falls within the applicable section 302(a) allocation,” according to a summary of the amendment.
House Republicans adopted a ban on earmarks after winning back the chamber in 2010, while the Senate has shunned earmarks the past three budget cycles but has rejected a permanent ban.
Congressional leaders emerged from a White House meeting today signaling they were optimistic they can reach a deal on averting the impending tax and spending issues known as the fiscal cliff. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seemed to soften his opposition to tax increases, saying Republicans are “prepared to put revenue on the table” in the talks.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said the White House and congressional leaders agreed on how they’ll try to construct a deal in the coming weeks, saying he expects a comprehensive agreement that does not push the choices over spending cuts and tax increases off deeper into next year.
The Senate on Thursday cleared a bill to consolidate federal agency reporting and commenting requirements associated with the 2009 economic stimulus law and the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
The Senate on Thursday advanced a measure that consolidates federal agency reporting and commenting requirements associated with the 2009 economic stimulus law and the Troubled Asset Relief Program by unanimous consent. The House passed the bill by voice vote Wednesday.
The bill (H.R. 6570) is sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) and would require annual, rather than semiannual, reports from the White House Office of Management and Budget on the activities of the financial industry bailout effort, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (PL 110-343). It also would require annual, rather than quarterly, comments from the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office on reports from other federal agencies about implementation of the stimulus law, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (PL 111-5).
The Senate also confirmed two nominees for leadership positions on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation board of directors: Martin J. Gruenberg to be chairman and Thomas Hoenig to be vice chairman.
Tuesday, the Senate cleared legislation (S. 743) by unanimous consent that would extend whistle-blower protections to Transportation Security Administration employees and those who disclose evidence of censorship of research or technical information.
The measure would grant the protections to current and prospective employees who report evidence of censorship that they believe would result in mismanagement, fraud, danger to the public or unlawfulness. The House passed the bill in September after adopting an amendment that stripped provisions in the bill that would have allowed federal court review of employee appeals of personnel actions and extended certain protections to the intelligence community.
Wednesday, the Senate cleared a bill (H.R. 6131) by voice vote that would allow the federal government to continue to share information and work with foreign counterparts to fight online fraud targeting Americans.
The measure would extend the authorities granted to the Federal Trade Commission under a 2006 law (PL 109-455) that is set to expire next year. The bill would extend the authorities, which are used to fight cross-border Internet scams such as fake lotteries, through September 30, 2020.
Yesterday at a Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee hearing, Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and ranking member James Inhofe (R-OK) discussed the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) draft 2012 bill. The last WRDA authorization was passed in 2007.
WRDA authorizes the studies, projects, policy changes, and programs of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and addresses the nation’s pressing water resources challenges.
Both Senators expressed confidence in moving forward with a reauthorization this year, and commented that their bi-partisan effort will reflect the work they did on the Highway Bill.
The House cleared an adjournment resolution (S Con Res 60) by unanimous consent, removing the need for both chambers to convene pro forma sessions during the upcoming Thanksgiving recess. The Senate adopted the measure by unanimous consent Thursday evening.
Under the resolution, the Senate will reconvene for legislative business on Monday, November 26, while the House will return on Tuesday, November 27. The Senate held a pro forma session this morning and the House adjourned after passing a Russian trade bill (H.R. 6156).
The next weekly legislative update will cover the week of November 26-30.