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Agricultural News

House Ag Committee Approves Budget Reconciliation for Ag by Party Line Vote- GOP Cries Foul

Thu, 11 Feb 2021 05:13:11 CST

House Ag Committee Approves Budget Reconciliation for Ag by Party Line Vote- GOP Cries Foul House Committee on Agriculture Republican Leader Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson of Pennsylvania issued the following statement after Committee Democrats passed the Agriculture Committee’s portion of the FY21 budget reconciliation bill on a party-line vote:

“House Democrats made it explicitly clear today there was never any intention to reach across the aisle and that the collective voice of Rural America would be silenced. In one breath, the Chairman and his members praised our amendments, and in the next, they voted against them. They love our ideas and think they are necessary to protect families and the vulnerable from COVID—just not enough to upset Speaker Pelosi’s budget power grab.

I’m proud of our Republican members for putting thoughtful proposals on the table to rein in the Democrats’ bloated bill and elevate the needs of farmers, ranchers, producers, and other communities neglected by this flawed process.

I was also pleased to see Congresswoman Axne(democrat from Iowa) join our efforts to expand disaster assistance for producers who suffered disaster losses in 2020.”

The House Agriculture Democrats’ reconciliation measure:

• Refuses to unfreeze the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program aid which has been held hostage by the Biden Administration, failing to support producers impacted by the pandemic.

• Fails American workers by prolonging dependence on government programs.

• Falls brazenly short in meeting the broadband connectivity demands of rural communities.

Committee Republicans offered a number of proposals. However, Democrats:

• Refused significant funding for employment and training that would have provided communities and individuals the support and new skills, and frankly, the chance, needed in a post-pandemic economy.

• Opposed efforts to return critical agricultural research to pre-pandemic levels.

• Shot down an amendment to invest in the connectivity needs of Rural America, describing it as a “poison pill.”

• Could not answer simple questions about what the needs of rural America are or who the proposals in their bill would benefit.

At the start of the mark up session- Thompson made a plea to Chairman David Scott to work with the Republicans. "Rather than spending time to work with Republicans, the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are abusing the reconciliation process to jam through a very narrow, partisan agenda with the barest of majorities.

"Unfortunately, this flawed approach is now being adopted by this Committee. What we are marking up today was written behind closed doors; Republicans were cut out of the process. The first time we saw this $16 billion proposal was less than 48 hours ago.

"Mr. Chairman, our members want to work with you—myself included—to craft a targeted package that responds to the crises facing our nation. But that effort must start by taking stock of our needs.
Over the past year, USDA has allocated more than $72 billion of assistance to hungry families, distressed producers, and shattered communities. And yet, USDA has obligated roughly 60% of the funds we have provided. To make matters worse, the Biden Administration has frozen the additional CFAP assistance that Congress provided in December.

"I recently sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget to clarify what funds remain unspent and why. Answering these basic questions is essential as we seek to provide additional assistance.
This Committee has not held a single hearing on USDA’s COVID response and the programs they have developed. We cannot fully account for what was spent and whether it was helpful. What’s worse, we don’t know what the new needs are and if we’re meeting them with this package today.

"Just two weeks ago, President Biden reminded us that “With unity we can do great things. Important things. … We can overcome this deadly virus.” This week the House and Senate Leadership make no pretense to even the illusion of bipartisanship. The course has been set and half of Congress has been willfully and totally shut out.

"The public deserves nothing less than a thorough, transparent, and bipartisan process on this legislation, to provide the right help to the right people in the right way. Instead, they will get a liberal wish list of partisan priorities, smuggled into law under the cover of reconciliation.

"Mr. Chairman, I know you’ve been given your marching orders, but this process stinks. Not long ago, you and I committed to one another to work together to strengthen the Committee’s bipartisanship.
Let us together call on the Biden Administration to unfreeze CFAP to provide immediate assistance to farm families."



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