Appropriations Process Moves Forward
The House and Senate appropriations committees are moving forward with consideration of appropriations bills. Last week, the House took up its first “minibus” package of three appropriations bills on the floor, which passed, despite objections of Democratic leadership, who have raised concerns about the uneven distribution of resources across bills. The bill was originally anticipated to include agriculture alongside energy and water, but instead includes the military construction and VA, energy and water, and legislative branch bills. It is unclear what the next package of bills will include, and when it might be taken up, though both leadership in chambers have expressed interest in advancing the appropriations process rapidly this summer, to hopefully avoid the need for continuing resolutions and shutdown battles during election season. You can read NWA’s analyses of the House and Senate agriculture appropriations bills, both of which have passed out of committee.
Senate Releases Bipartisan Farm Bill
Last Friday, the Senate Agriculture Committee released the text of its proposed Farm Bill. The Senate’s bill is the result of bipartisan negotiations led by Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and it is expected to garner support from both parties. The Senate’s bill avoids the controversial and partisan provisions of the House farm bill. You can learn more about the Senate’s proposals in the Agriculture Committee’s section-by-section summaries (with any SNAP-related provisions being covered in Title IV – Nutrition).
NWA supports the Senate’s bipartisan work in negotiating this compromise legislation, rejecting the harmful SNAP proposals advanced in the House. The bill does not address WIC or other child nutrition programs, as those programs are authorized through the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) legislation, instead of the Farm Bill.
The Senate’s bill and any potential amendments will be considered by the Agriculture Committee this Wednesday morning, June 13. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated his intention to bring the bill to the Senate floor shortly after the committee approves it, perhaps as early as the week of June 18.
House Passes Rescission Package in Attempt to Undo $14.7 Billion in Approved Spending
Last Thursday, the House passed a partisan measure to rescind nearly $15 billion in funds that had previously been authorized under February’s Bipartisan Budget Act. The vote was 210-206, with no Democrats supporting the rescissions and 19 Republicans voting against it. The proposed rescissions were developed by the White House, which flagged nearly half of the cuts (approximately $7 billion) from accounts linked to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
The White House’s efforts to claw back previously authorized spending could exacerbate tensions on Capitol Hill and undermine future budget and appropriations negotiations. For that reason, it is unclear whether the rescissions will find support among Senate Republicans.
Congress Sends Letters About Child Separation at the Border
Last week, Senators Wyden (D-OR) and Murray (D-WA) led a letter from 30 Democratic Senators calling for an end to the practice of separating children and caregivers at the U.S.-Mexico border. The letter came after reports of the administration losing track of nearly 1,500 children at the border, and other reporting from the New York Times on the practice of child separation and its impact.
In May, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement denouncing the practice of child separation at the border. “Separating children from their parents contradicts everything we stand for as pediatricians – protecting and promoting children’s health. In fact, highly stressful experiences, like family separation, can cause irreparable harm, disrupting a child's brain architecture and affecting his or her short- and long-term health. This type of prolonged exposure to serious stress - known as toxic stress - can carry lifelong consequences for children,” states AAP President Colleen Kraft, MD.