2020 Appropriations Update

2020 Appropriations Update
September 11, 2019
Hunter Moorhead, Legislative Consultant

On June 25th, the full House voted 227-194 to approve the fiscal year 2020 Agriculture appropriations bill which included an increase in FSA salaries and expenses of 3.8 % or $ 41 million. The Senate has yet to act on any 2020 appropriation measures. Due to this lack of progress, the House is planning to move a continuing resolution next week that will run through November 21st or 22nd, or through December 6th. It appears November 21st or 22nd will the most likely choice, but we are told the decision has not been made yet. At this time, we do not expect that the government will face another shutdown. With an election year coming up, we do not feel that anyone in Congress will have the stomach to add this as an issue for voters to take sides on.

The Senate planned on moving 4 bills this week through subcommittee and full committee appropriations. Democrats met Monday night, and decided they wanted to push back on anticipated allocations in domestic discretionary as well as on some issues important to their base (border wall restrictions, abortion/title X, etc.). There is a divide between members who want to work with the majority and address their concerns through the process (in conference) and those who want to begin fighting on every appropriations bill immediately.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell reiterated on the Sunday news programs his intention is to only pass appropriations bills in the Senate acceptable to the President.

The plan had been to mark up four bills this week (DoD, E&W, LHHS, SFO), four next (Ag, FS, MilCon/VA, THUD), and four the following week (CJS, DHS, Interior, Leg Branch). Chairman Shelby and Senate Republican Leadership hoped to have the first four bills on the Senate floor next week (9/16-9/20). Absent some agreement between Chairman Shelby, Ranking Member Leahy and Senate Leadership, the FY 2020 appropriations schedule appears to be moving further down the calendar.

NASCOE fully understands that our members will have concerns, especially considering the events last year. We will continue to closely monitor the appropriations process and will keep membership apprised as new developments arise.

Photos of NASCOE Legislative Co-Chairs Clint Bain and Neil Burnette.

NASCOE Legislative Update: May 17, 2019

Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant
May 17, 2019

The current work period has proven active for agricultural policy proposals and related oversight hearings. The below provides an update of certain activities that impact FSA programs and employees.

Disaster Assistance — The House of Representatives, on May 10, passed legislation providing assistance for 2018 and 2019 hurricanes, wildfires floods and related disasters. The Senate is currently negotiating with the House to finalize what will become the final legislation. The Senate is expected to debate disaster assistance next week. The House details are summarized below for your review. 

House Passed Bill:

  • $3.005 billion for crop and livestock losses for 2018 and 2019
  • $480 million for Emergency Forest Restoration Program
  • $125 million for Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations
  • $500 million for Emergency Conservation Program
  • $600 million for Puerto Rico nutrition assistance
  • $25 million for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands nutrition assistance
  • $5 million for American Samoa nutrition assistance
  • $5 million to study Puerto Rico nutrition assistance provided during 2017
  • Market Facilitation Program payment limitation language:
    • $900,000 and 75% from agriculture AGI payment limitation
    • $125,000 payment cap

Market Facilitation Program — The Secretary of Agriculture recently commented that USDA will provide another round of trade assistance. Our contacts believe the total assistance will range between $15 and 20 billion. It is likely that payment rates for specific commodities will be adjusted compared to 2018. Once available, we will provide additional details. 

Federal Appropriations — The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to consider the fiscal year 2020 bill on Thursday, May 23. Our meetings with Members and staff have been productive but didn’t provide any details about funding levels. Currently, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to meet Tuesday, June 11.

H.R. 2478 Federal Retirement Fairness Act — Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) has introduced legislation allowing former temporary employees, in a temporary position after December 31, 1988, to be credited for service under FERS. Unlike previous legislation, this proposal is more favorable by not requiring significant investment by individual employees while giving workers additional credit toward retirement. We will continue to monitor this legislation that could potentially impact many of our members.

President Signs Appropriations Bill to Fund Government

On Friday afternoon, President Trump signed the legislation to avert another government shutdown and ensures the entire federal government is funded through September 30.

The legislation covers seven appropriations bills:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies;
  • Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies;
  • Financial Services and General Government;
  • Homeland Security;
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies;
  • State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; and
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.

The legislation, H.J. Res. 31, passed the Senate and House yesterday, February 14, 2019.

Photos of NASCOE Legislative Co-Chairs Donny Green and Neil Burnette

Government Funding Update – February 14, 2019

FY19 Appropriations Bill Update

February 14, 2019

Hunter Moorhead, Legislative Consultant

The Homeland Security Conference Report (including all the other appropriations bills outstanding for FY 2019) passed the Senate 83-16, and passed the House 300-128 (with 4 not voting) late this evening.

President Trump has signaled that he will sign the bill before the February 15 deadline which will prevent another government shutdown.

NASCOE’s Legislative Team will continue to track the President’s action on the bill and will provide additional updates.

NASCOE Legislative Committee FY19 Appropriations Update – January 8, 2019

January 8, 2019
Appropriations Update

Hunter Moorhead, Legislative Consultant

Over the weekend, the White House, led by VP Pence met with Congressional Democratic staff to continue discussions to break the current partial government shutdown.  

The White House gave staff a letter (attached) requesting $5.7 billion in border security funding (notable was a characterization of the border structure funding as “steel barriers”) and $800m in humanitarian assistance funding and an additional $798m in detention beds for the border.

The letter request represents approximately a $7b increase in funding for border security (and other CBP, ICE, etc.) funding related to the border over the FY 2019 request. None of the funding requested in the letter is offset.

Good news: The language and characterization of some of the items is changing, perhaps signaling movement toward common ground (or a compromise reflecting something that both sides can claim victory over). In addition, the inclusion of the $758m for support of 52k detention beds and $800m for urgent humanitarian assistance are included to gain Democratic support.

Less good news: The two sides continue to complain about the other and Congressional Democrats noted both the lack of justification materials and offsets for the spending which doesn’t signal a sense of urgency to resolve the funding impasse.  

The House is scheduled to vote later this week on four individual appropriations measures closely reflecting the FY 2019 Senate passed bills for Agriculture, Financial Services/General Government, Interior, and Transportation/HUD. This is just another version of the strategy the House employed last week – passing spending measures that have previously been moved with broad bipartisan support in the Senate to put pressure on Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Republicans in that body to engage on the government shutdown.

To this point, Senate Majority Leader has indicated the disagreement is between the White House and Congressional Democrats and that he will not put a bill on the Senate floor to fund the remaining agencies of the government unless it has the support of the White House.

The President is scheduled to speak to the nation tonight at 9:00 pm. At this point, we don’t expect the President will be announcing any new agreement leading to reopening the government.  In addition, President Trump will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday visiting with Senate Republicans about the government shutdown and 2019 agenda.

Questions:
With this being a new Congress, are we at risk of losing previously agreed upon appropriations for FSA salaries and expenses? Can we possibly increase previously agreed upon funding levels?

At this point, the Congressional negotiators are following last year’s agreed upon funding levels. Following the shutdown, we will work with FSA leadership to determine how the Department funded operations and the possible negative impact on any available salaries and expenses funding.

Market Facilitation Program:
(Washington, D.C., January 8, 2019) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today extended the deadline for agricultural producers to apply for payments under the Market Facilitation Program as provided by the trade mitigation program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The original deadline had been January 15, 2019, but farmers have been unable to apply for the program since the lapse in federal funding caused the closure of USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices at the end of business on December 28, 2018.

NASCOE Legislative Committee FY19 Appropriations Update–January 4, 2019

January 4, 2019
Appropriations Update
Hunter Moorhead, Legislative Consultant

Another week has passed without an agreement to reopen the federal government. The President hosted a meeting today with Congressional Leadership to discuss how to fund border security wall and reopen the government. While folks believe progress was made, the government will remain closed into next week. The below text outlines the public conversation between negotiators. In addition, the House Appropriations Committee today introduced disaster legislation. As you all know, we will provide information should the President or Congress announce any deal to reopen the federal government. 

Following Meeting with President Trump

Speaker Pelosi:

  • We will continue talking
  • We cannot resolve the issue until the government reopens
  • We are committed to defending the country and our constitution

Schumer:

  • Don’t hold millions of Americans hostage…open the government and continue the discussions
  • President resisted…said he would keep the government closed for months or years
  • Must open the government

Press – Progress on a dollar figure?

  • Pelosi – we made some progress on the negotiations

Trump:

  • Incredible job growth…factories are moving back to the US…312,000 jobs
  • Productive meeting – Pelosi and Schumer…on the same path
  • Additional meetings this weekend
  • Border Patrol laid out the problem
  • You see people entering where we don’t have walls…officer shot and killed
  • Ports of entry have walls…these people go to the weakest part…some walking
  • Wall in CA is working
  • Built by US Steel Companies
  • Team will work over the weekend
  • We are 5.6 billion…may add other items

Pence:

  • Two weeks into the shutdown…crisis on the border
  • Everyday 2,000 people are stopped trying to enter the country
  • Trump provided the leadership American people expect…committed to build a wall on the southern border
  • Pence, Kushner and Secretary Nielsen will lead the weekend negotiations

McCarthy:

  • Two hour productive meeting
  • President needs border security and the government open
  • We will get this done

House Appropriations Committee
Emergency Disaster Appropriations bill

Title I – Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

Agricultural Programs — $1.1 billion. Payments for crop and livestock losses due to hurricanes, typhoons, volcanic activities, or wildfires during 2018. 

Emergency Forest Restoration Program — $480 million.  Assistance to owners of private forests to restore disaster-damaged forests. 

Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations — $125 million. Financial and technical assistance to states and local sponsors to protect and restore watersheds up to 250,000 acres.

Rural Community Facilities Program — $150 million.  Grants for facilities to provide health care, education, public safety, and public services to rural communities.

Nutrition Assistance Program for Puerto Rico — $600 million.  Additional funding to continue disaster nutrition benefits in Puerto Rico during its recovery from Hurricane Maria. 

Nutrition Assistance Program for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) — $10.2 million.  Additional funding for nutrition benefits in CNMI following typhoons in September and October.

In addition —

  • Provide trade mitigation assistance through the Market Facilitation Program to producers who derive at least 75 percent of their adjusted gross income from farming, ranching, or forestry related activities.

§ Provide trade mitigation assistance through the Market Facilitation Program to producers who derive at least 75 percent of their adjusted gross income from farming, ranching, or forestry related activities.

NASCOE Legislative Update: December 7, 2018

From Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant:

Appropriations Update — As expected, the House and Senate have agreed to another continuing resolution funding the government through December 21. The President signed the measure on Friday, December 7, 2018

Farm Bill Reauthorization — We expect the 2018 Farm Bill conference report will be released early next week. We will forward all summary documents and legislative language.

Legislative News Flash–2018 Farm Bill & FY19 Appropriations Updates

NASCOE Legislative Update for November 26

With the elections nearly complete, we are actively working to finalize both the 2018 Farm Bill and the 2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Let us know if you need additional information about the topics listed below.

Elections – Today’s Mississippi Senate race between Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy will be the final federal election.  If Hyde-Smith wins, the Senate Republicans will continue their control by a margin of 53 – 47.  As previously noted, the House of Representatives will shift to Democratic control allowing Congressman Collin Peterson to chair the Agriculture Committee.

Farm Bill Reauthorization – The House and Senate Ag Committee leadership are working tirelessly to finalize Farm Bill negotiations.  As of noon today, an agreement had not been reach regarding the conservation title and forestry related provisions. However, we still believe the process is wrapping up and the final details should be available soon.  We have been able to address most all of our concerns and believe the final agreement will be an improvement for both FSA and production agriculture.

Appropriations – Five appropriations bills representing 75% of the Federal budget have been enacted and signed into law (DoD, LHHS, Energy & Water, Milcon/VA, Legislative Branch).  Of the remaining seven bills, four (Agriculture, Financial Services/General Government, Interior, Transportation/HUD) are in a minibus which has largely been conferenced, and substantial work has been done between the House and the Senate on the other three bills (Commerce/Justice/Science, Homeland, and State/Foreign Operations).

The agencies covered by the seven outstanding bills are currently being funded by a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on December 7th.

Reportedly, there is agreement between the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs and Ranking Members on a schedule to move the remaining seven bills in one package. The White House agrees with that approach.  To complete action on a seven bill appropriations package and move it through both the House and the Senate before the CR runs out on December 7th, decisions on outstanding issues and funding levels should be made by Sunday, December 2nd.  The most difficult remaining issue is the funding level and conditions on funding for the Border Wall/Border Security — the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations bill contains $1.6b and the House version contains $5b.

Over 100 House members who are retiring or who lost their seats are currently working out of cubicles (they’ve been kicked out of their offices so those spaces can be available for incoming members).  Predictably, those 100 members are less than enthusiastic about dragging this Congress out any longer than necessary.  There is likely to be some emergency funding included for recovery from this year’s hurricanes and wildfires in the final appropriations vehicle moving through this congress, as well as some extraneous legislative items (Farm Bill, Flood Program extension, etc.).

Since the President can veto any spending bill that doesn’t satisfy his desires on funding for the Border Wall/Border Security, the confrontation/negotiation on the issue could easily result in an impasse that precludes completion of a seven bill wrap-up appropriations package.

Should an agreement be unattainable by the 7th of December, another continuing resolution could be passed to prevent any government shutdown.

Everyone wants to complete action on the FY 2019 appropriations bills. Everyone wants to go home as early as possible. Everyone understands that everyone else wants to finish and go home and accordingly, the party who is willing to hold out the longest and inflict the most pain on themselves and everyone else may believe a willingness to stay and precipitate a partial government shutdown would give them leverage in the negotiations.  

An orderly completion of the FY 2019 Appropriations process and timely passage of a seven-bill wrap-up package is possible but unlikely given the rhetoric, staked out positions, and likely posturing to both parties’ bases on the Border Wall/Border Security Issue. 

If an agreement is reached before or on December 7th, a two or three day continuing resolution could be passed to avoid any government shutdown while the final agreement moves through the Congress. 

A number of Members of Congress met with President Trump this afternoon to continue budget negotiations. We will provide another update later this week regarding the chances of any government shutdown.  

Hunter Moorhead
NASCOE Legislative Consultant

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Legislative Update: FY19 Appropriations and 2018 Farm Bill Reauthorization

Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE’s Legislative Consultant, has provide us with the below up-to-date information on the status of both the FY19 Appropriations and 2018 Farm Bill.

Thanks,
Donny Green & Neil Burnette
NASCOE Legislative Chairpersons


The current budget and legislative information is being provided to NASCOE membership and is intended to update full membership regarding both federal spending/appropriations and 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization.

Appropriations
The President is scheduled later today to sign the Defense and Labor Health and Human Services appropriations bills. This legislation will fund the government through December 7, 2018. There will be no government shutdown.

For Agriculture appropriations, the Bill has been negotiated and will likely be formally agreed to following the November mid-term elections. Once final, we will provide details about salaries and expenses funding and any relevant legislative language.

Farm Bill
The House and Senate continue to negotiate the final agreement. Unfortunately, the September 30 deadline will pass without any final resolution. The deadline will have very little impact on commodity and conservation programs. We expect negotiations will continue throughout the Fall. In a perfect world, they would wrap up negotiations before the end of 2018.

Hunter Moorhead
NASCOE Legislative Consultant