The 114th Congress will convene tomorrow with 13 new senators and 63 new House members including new leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX) will serve as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) will become chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. With a Republican controlled Congress, we can expect an increase in the number of oversight hearings on the administration’s policies.
Conaway has indicated the House Agriculture Committee will review the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s implementation of the 2014 farm bill and a complete review of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) announced he is forming an Interior Subcommittee that will focus on issues related to the Departments of Interior and Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and the USDA.
We can expect continuing hearings on the Affordable Care Act. There will be some key fiscal issues for Congress and the administration to address early in the session – debt ceiling and the fiscal year 2016 budget. There are a number of issues important to agriculture and the meat industry that will be considered by Congress and the administration. They include country of origin labeling, dietary guidelines, reauthorization of child nutrition programs (school lunch and school breakfast), regulations on healthy foods for school lunch, Cuba embargo, Trade Promotion Authority, Trans Pacific Partnership, tax reform, renewable fuels standards, Waters of the U.S., and more.