Senate Action on Agriculture Appropriations

Recently the US Senate invoked cloture by a vote of 82-16 on the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies FY 2012 Appropriations Bill.  By invoking cloture the Senate limits debate on the bill for up to 30 hours and allows for debate on amendments. (Cloture is a motion or process aimed at bringing debate to a quick end.)

The Senate adjourned on Friday and will reconvene after their scheduled recess on October 31. Several amendments have been filed to the Agriculture Appropriations bill.  As reported earlier, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill is part of a minibus package with Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce-Justice-Science.

Below are a few of the amendments the Senate took action on last week:

  • The Senate adopted 84-15 an amendment SA 791 by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) that prohibits the use of funds to provide direct payments to persons or legal entities with an average adjusted gross income in excess of $1,000,000.
  • The Senate adopted an amendment SA 757 by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) that prevents any funds from being used to set maximum limits on the frequency of serving vegetables in school meal programs.
  • The Senate adopted 58-41 an amendment SA 869 by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) that  adds $100 million to the Emergency Conservation Program and Watershed Protection Program for expenses resulting from a major disaster designation under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

Other amendments that may be considered next week include:

  • Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) will offer two amendments; SA 833 that will tighten the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limitation on farm program benefits and SA 799 that will prevent any funds from being used to carry out the Rural Energy for America Program.
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) will offer two amendments; SA 842 that will limit the benefit from all farm programs to $250,000 per person or legal entity and SA 777 that will prevent any funds from being used to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ) will offer SA 745 that will prevent funds from the agriculture appropriations bill from being used to provide payments to the Brazil Cotton Institute. (See our earlier articles)
  • Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) has offered SA 767 that will prohibit any further use of the GSM-102 Export Credit Guarantee program.  The GSM-102 Program has come under fire since the WTO Brazil Cotton case ruling (See our earlier report).
  • Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) has offered SA 771 that will allow USTR to hire more trade attorneys to enforce current agreements, and litigate WTO cases and other trade disputes.
  • Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) has offered SA 807 that will incorporate the text of H.R. 872 into the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill amending the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) to clarify that CWA permits are not needed when a pesticide is applied in accordance with a FIFRA-approved label. ***Negotiations are continuing on a possible deal that would enact a two-year moratorium on implementing the court action.***
  • The U.S. House of Representatives has already adopted their version of Agriculture Appropriations, H.R. 2112, for Fiscal Year 2012. The measure was adopted on June 30, by a vote of 217-203.  House leaders recently indicated that they would accept the process of bundling appropriations bills into three or four “minibus packages” in order to adopt the 12 spending measures for fiscal year 2012.

The federal government remains under a continuing resolution that expires on November 18.

Tim Cansler