Senate Appropriators Veer From House on Ag, Nutrition Spending

Senate appropriators advanced funding levels for fiscal ’24 USDA and FDA spending, veering from House GOP efforts to make deeper cuts than those President Biden agreed to in the earlier debt limit deal.

700 million more for USDA and FDA than House levels, including more for Ag research and food safety, WIC, and full funding for SNAP with no new work requirements—a key difference from the House GOP proposal.

Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA); “We cannot have strong communities if families can’t put food on the table, or kids go hungry.”

But Ag Appropriations top Republican John Hoeven (R-ND) says nutrition increases squeezed other spending, forcing tough choices for ag-related programs. Hoeven; “We focused on things that we believe are priorities, starting with things like ag research, which has been so incredibly important for America’s farmers and ranchers…making sure that we maintained adequate staffing at both FSA and also at RMA to make sure that the countercyclical safety net and the crop insurance is out there supporting farmers and ranchers across this country.”

Supports that could be hard to boost in the five-year farm bill, also squeezed by the GOP-Biden debt limit deal that could punish delays now and down the road.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) added; “Even more problematic, the debt ceiling law includes an automatic cut that could occur, if all 12 appropriations bills are not passed by the end of the year. We simply cannot allow those indiscriminate cuts to be triggered.

But avoiding that will be tough. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s already committed to his conservative wing to cut FY ’24 spending to FY ’22 levels—not this year’s agreed to in the debt deal.

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