Farm Bill

‘Enter hemp with extreme caution,’ Kentucky farmer tells Senate panel
Agriculture Committee hears about the lows induced by hemp production

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he hopes a new generation of Kentucky farmers finds hemp just as lucrative a crop as tobacco once was. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Farmers facing low prices and mired in trade uncertainty see hemp as the next big cash crop, but a Kentucky veteran of six hemp harvests warned it’s a demanding plant to produce.

“Enter hemp with extreme caution,” Brian Furnish told the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday.

Road ahead: All eyes on the budget and debt limit deal, except when Mueller testifies
House to tackle border issues, while Senate will confirm Defense secretary, clear 9/11 compensation bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wants to clear the debt deal this week before the chamber departs for the August recess. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

All eyes this week will be on whether House lawmakers are able to pass a deal to raise the debt limit and set spending levels for the next two years before leaving for the August recess on Friday.

That is except, of course, when former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III seizes all the attention when he testifies before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

The USDA violated rules trying to move agencies out of D.C., new House report finds
Rules including reprogramming department funds and not seeking public opinion were violated, a House Appropriations report says

Department of Agriculture sign in Washington, DC (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In its drive to move two research-related agencies out of Washington, the USDA violated rules for reprogramming department funds, never sought public opinion and ignored appropriators’ request for a cost-benefit analysis, according to a House report released Monday.

The report, which will accompany the draft fiscal 2020 spending bill for the Agriculture Department, offers background on why lawmakers included provisions in the bill to bar the use of appropriated funds for moving the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Hemp concerns and trade jitters top agriculture appropriations hearing
The Agriculture Department’s request includes cuts to research, rural housing and international humanitarian food programs

Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue takes his seat to testify during the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate appropriators had trade woes and the promise of industrial hemp on their minds Thursday as they sought assurances from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue of better times for farmers in their states.

Perdue testified before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on the president’s $15.7 billion request for discretionary funding for the Agriculture Department. The request is more than $4.2 billion lower than the enacted level for fiscal 2019 and includes cuts to research, rural housing, international humanitarian food programs and other areas popular with lawmakers.

Last year’s food stamps battle was contentious. This year Trump upped the ante
The Trump administration budget wants food stamp recipients under 65 to have work requirements

Copies of President Donald Trump’s budget for Fiscal Year 2020 run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington on Thursday, March 7, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration would expand the pool of adult food stamp recipients subject to work, job-training or community service requirements to include people up to age 65, according to fiscal 2020 budget documents released Monday.

The proposal is broader than provisions in last year’s contentious House farm bill that called for applying work requirements under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, to able-bodied adults between the ages 18 and 59 with no dependents or with children older than 6. The proposal would have raised the age limit for adults subject to the work requirement from age 49.

Disaster aid fix would open spigot for cherry growers
The provision on its face strains the definition of ‘emergency,’ but Washington cherry growers are smarting from China’s retaliatory tariffs

Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., says the trade war has led to some $96 million in losses to sweet cherry producers for the 2018 growing season. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Talk about a sweetener.

An arcane provision moving through Congress as part of must-pass disaster aid legislation would let farmers earning more than $900,000 on average for the past three years qualify for President Donald Trump’s $12 billion program compensating producers for trade-related losses.

Key House votes in 2018: CQ Vote Studies
These 12 measures were the weightiest and most controversial of the year

Al Green, a Texas Democrat, offered an impeachment resolution highlighting Trump’s “bigoted statements.” The vote put some in his party in a tight spot. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The oldest of CQ’s annual studies, Key Votes is a selection of the major votes for both House and Senate for the past year. Editors choose the single vote on each issue that best presents a member’s stance or that determined the year’s legislative outcome. Charts of how each member voted on this list can be found at CQ.com.

Passage of a bill that would reauthorize for six years, through 2023, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which governs electronic surveillance of foreign terrorism suspects. Passed 256-164 (R 191-45; D 65-119) on Jan. 11, 2018.

Party unity on congressional votes takes a dive: CQ Vote Studies
Decline more dramatic in the Senate

Of the top six Democrats who broke from their party in 2018, four are no longer in Congress, including Heidi Heitkamp, right. Senators eyeing the presidency, meanwhile, are sticking to their party like glue. Elizabeth Warren had a perfect unity score. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After Democrats and Republicans reached record highs sticking together by party on congressional votes in 2017, those numbers nose-dived in 2018 as lawmakers worked across the aisle on high-profile legislation, including a rewrite of the Dodd-Frank financial law, a package dealing with the opioid crisis, spending bills and an overhaul of the country’s criminal justice laws.

CQ’s annual vote study shows that in the House the total number of party unity votes — defined as those with each party’s majority on opposing sides — fell from 76 percent of the total votes taken in the House in 2017, a record, to 59 percent in 2018. That latter figure is the lowest since 2010, the most recent year of unified Democratic control of Congress. Election years typically have fewer votes and 2018 was no exception — the total number of votes taken in the House, 498, was the lowest since 2002.

Trump’s winning pattern with legislation might become a thing of the past: CQ Vote Studies
Republican control of both chambers primed the pump for president’s 2018 success

President Donald Trump standing with Congress slipped just a bit in 2018, but he still locked down a 98.7 percent support rate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Riding Republican majorities in both chambers last year, President Donald Trump put up strong numbers for the second consecutive year in getting support for his nominees and legislation he backed, winning 93.4 percent of the time, according to data compiled for CQ’s annual vote study of presidential support.

That’s among the highest for any chief executive since CQ began tracking the data in 1954, during the Eisenhower administration — third to be exact. But it is down 5 percentage points from Trump’s record-high level of support during his first year in office, when Congress supported his positions 98.7 percent of the time.

White House to put Medicare cuts on hold during shutdown
Pay-as-you-go law would force cuts if shutdown lingers until Jan. 24

If the shutdown lingers until Jan. 24, under current law, the OMB would be forced to slice around $839 million from nonexempt programs across the government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration won’t order up a round of cuts in federal benefit programs, primarily Medicare, if the partial government shutdown remains in effect later this month, a senior Office of Management and Budget official said.

If the shutdown lingers until Jan. 24, under current law, the OMB would be forced to slice around $839 million from nonexempt programs across the government. That number represents the figure left on the pay-as-you-go “scorecard” for 2018, specifying the net amount added to the fiscal 2019 deficit by laws enacted last year, excluding emergency spending that is exempt from the calculation.