Congress to consider six appropriations bills this week

An ag lobbyist says he’s optimistic Congress can pass a bipartisan appropriations package to prevent partial government shutdown ahead of Friday’s deadline.

Randy Russell tells Brownfield the U.S. House will vote the package first to fund the USDA and five other agencies in the 2024 fiscal year.

“I don’t think the House will vote until sometime Wednesday or even Thursday.”

And then, the Senate will vote before going to President Joe Biden for a signature.

In the ag appropriations bill, Russell says lawmakers have agreed to fully fund the Women, Infants and Children Program, a nutrition program that provides assistance to women with children up to five-years-old.

“It had a $1 billion shortfall in its funding account and they had to come up with the money to fund. That was part of the deal: where do you come up with $1 billion to pay for the increased costs of the WIC program? They figured it out.”

The bill also gives USDA’s Farm Service Agency more money to better track U.S. foreign ag land ownership and makes the agriculture secretary a member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

“The committee reviews all foreign transactions, purchases or mergers of U.S. businesses for national security reasons. I think both of those are a step in the right direction in terms of national security.”

Russell says the remaining six appropriations bills will take more work to pass due to controversial funding issues and policy riders by the end of March.

And shortly after the fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills are passed, he says lawmakers will start working on funding for fiscal year 2025.

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