Nothing is ever easy in Congress especially during an election year and that includes trying to consider this year’s agriculture appropriations bill. The Senate tried to move forward last week on a number of fiscal year 2015 appropriations bills including agriculture.
A package of bills has been bundled into a $141 billion “mini-bus” appropriations bill for the Senate to consider. This package includes appropriations for Commerce Justice-Science (CJS), Transportation-HUD, and Agriculture. Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee said, “Supporting this bill is a no-brainer. It sustains our agricultural producers, communities and families, it strengthens our economy, and it secures the future of our nation. Agriculture is something America does better than anyone else.”
Republicans objected to a proposal by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that all amendments offered would require a 60-vote threshold to pass. A number of agriculture amendments are expected including food safety, haying and grazing, wetlands, Brazilian beef, nutrition, and trade.
If a breakthrough isn’t reached, the prospects of this “minibus” or an agriculture appropriations bill returning to the Senate floor is unlikely. The House of Representatives’ leadership has not indicated when it will resume consideration of its agriculture appropriations bill.