Agriculture

Democrats weave climate messages into spending bills
Aggressive action on climate change and halting rollback of environmental regulations

Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., shepherds action on the House’s environmental spending measure. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats are using the budget process to offer a clear contrast ahead of an election year between their embrace of aggressive action on climate change and the rollbacks of environmental regulation championed by Republicans when they controlled the chamber in the 115th Congress.

Many of the provisions they’ve included in the fiscal 2020 spending bills may not survive the GOP-led Senate, but Democrats are aware of national polls showing growing voter concern about the climate crisis.

Road ahead: House and Senate seek to pass dueling border funding bills
Defense policy, election security and spending also on the agenda ahead of July Fourth

From right, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, Vice Chairman Patrick J. Leahy and Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin huddle Wednesday before the committee marked up a border supplemental package. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Leaders in the House and Senate want to approve spending at least $4 billion more to address the influx of migrants and their humanitarian needs at the U.S.-Mexico border before the July Fourth recess.

Bills in the two chambers differ, however, raising doubts about whether there will be a resolution on President Donald Trump’s desk this month. 

Road Ahead: Border supplemental talks could overshadow regular appropriations
Senate to begin NDAA debate while House votes on first fiscal 2020 spending package

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is among the senators hoping for a deal on a supplemental border operations package this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional leaders are hoping this week will produce a breakthrough in negotiations over emergency funding for the migrant crisis at the southern border so they can pass it before the Independence Day recess. 

President Donald Trump has requested Congress pass a $4.5 billion supplemental to help the Department of Homeland Security process the growing number of migrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump stiffs Iowa Democrat from ethanol tour in her own district, she claims
White House says Rep. Axne was never invited on tour with president in the first place

Reps. Cynthia Axne, D-Iowa, right, and Katie Porter, D-Calif., attend a House Financial Services Committee hearing in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Cindy Axne and the White House spiraled down a classic he-said-she-said argument this week over Axne’s omission from the president’s guest list as he toured an ethanol facility in her district on Tuesday.

Axne, a Democrat representing Iowa’s 3rd District, has claimed that the White House rescinded its invitation for her to join President Donald Trump on his tour of the facility. The White House has said Axne was never invited to join Trump on the tour in the first place, but rather to attend his remarks after the tour as a guest.

Contractors would receive shutdown pay in next spending package
Contractor back pay would provide the same benefit granted to direct federal employees

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., questions Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a House Financial Services Committee hearing. She is seeking to add provisions in a spending bill to aid contractors during a shutdown. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats would make whole federal contractors who didn't get paid during the 35-day partial government shutdown that ended in January as part of a $383 billion fiscal 2020 spending bill set to hit the floor next week. 

The package combines five bills: Commerce-Justice-Science will be the vehicle, carrying the Agriculture, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD measures as well.

Rep. Hartzler to host $500-per-person event for defense executives on eve of defense markup
The timing may raise eyebrows in the lobbying community and among campaign finance overhaul supporters

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., left, and Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., leave the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on June 13, 2018. Hartzler has invited defense industry executives and other D.C. insiders to a luncheon fundraiser Tuesday, on the eve of the panel’s signature markup of the year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated June 10, 2019, 10 p.m. | Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a high-ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, has invited defense industry executives and other D.C. insiders to a luncheon fundraiser Tuesday, on the eve of the panel’s signature markup of the year.

House Armed Services has scheduled its marathon markup of the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, which sets the Defense Department’s annual policy and budget priorities, for Wednesday.

A Trump administration review of mining bans has green groups worried
Environmental groups say they worry the report could give the White House a rationale for opening federal lands to new mineral extraction

U.S. Department of Commerce building in Washington. A new Commerce Department report has created worry among environmental groups, who say the report could give the Trump administration a rationale for opening federal lands to new mineral extraction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Commerce Department report about U.S. reliance on foreign sources of minerals deemed essential for national security has stirred fears among environmental groups that the Trump administration may lift existing bans on new mining claims on public lands, including sites near the Grand Canyon.

Commerce recommended in the report released Tuesday that the Interior and Agriculture Departments complete a “thorough review” of all such bans — also called withdrawals — and develop “appropriate measures to reduce unnecessary impacts that they may have on mineral exploration, development and other activities.”

Lawmakers put funding ban on human embryo gene editing research in Ag. bill
The rider bars the Food and Drug Administration from approving research that involves gene-editing of human embryos

From left, Reps. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., attend a House Appropriations Committee markup of the FY 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill in Rayburn Building on July 25, 2018. By voice vote, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., to put back language banning the funding of research involving the gene editing of human embryos, which has been in the spending bill since fiscal 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Appropriators did some soul searching Tuesday before deciding to include a policy rider in the fiscal 2020 Agriculture spending bill that would bar the Food and Drug Administration from approving research that involves gene-editing of human embryos.

By voice vote, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., to put back language that had been in the spending bill since fiscal 2016 but was omitted in the draft bill approved on May 23 by the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

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.

Road ahead: Plenty of legislating to be done around Trump impeachment chatter
Disaster relief bill and defense authorization among upcoming priorities

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., left, blasted House Republicans who objected to the disaster supplemental during the break. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The increasing talk of the House launching impeachment proceedings is not yet crippling the legislative agenda that does exist, but that could change if President Donald Trump refuses to negotiate.

As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week, the first order of business will be for the House to finish the long-stalled emergency spending package for disaster relief. The Senate passed the compromise bill May 16, but the floor votes came after House members had already left town for the Memorial Day break.