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House Ag Spending Bill Future Uncertain After Losing Floor Vote

Defeat of the House USDA spending bill last week over farm and abortion issues leaves the bill’s future uncertain, amid continued political chaos in the chamber.

The USDA-FDA bill’s defeat was yet another scar in a House plagued by continued political turmoil within and between the parties, even as a majority came together to avert a federal shutdown. 27 Republicans joined 210 Democrats to kill the bill. Among Democrats, Central Illinois’ Nikki Budzinkski said “As a member on the House Committee on Agriculture, I could spend hours with you all walking through how cutting funding to 2003 levels, leaves our farmers and working families, behind.”

While Budzinski complains the bill was “weaponized” to attack women’s access to mail-order mifepristone that the FDA says is safe.

Wisconsin Democrat Mark Pocan complained the bill “disrespects” America’s farmers.

“This strips assistance for 104,000 farm loan borrowers,” according to Pocan. “If you’re a farmer who uses the Farm Service Agency for loans or disaster relief, this bill cuts FSA, in addition to conservation programs like EQIP that help farmers improve their operations and output. If you get energy assistance as a farmer, good luck with that—REAP funds will be cut by over 500 million, making your energy costs go up in Rural America.”

But Maryland Republican and Ag Appropriations Chair Andy Harris mocked Pocan’s claim the bill cuts USDA/FDA spending to 2001 levels. Harris said, “We are not cutting spending to FY 2001 levels. We are cutting them to pre-covid levels. Because Mr. Chair, the pandemic is over. The freewheeling spending during the pandemic has to end. A $2 trillion deficit, and an open southern border, are existential threats to this country.”

The House then passed three spending bills plus one earlier, and will take up two others this week, but not USDA, as Congress races to finish all 12 by a new shutdown deadline, November 17th.

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