The House and Senate passed their respective Fiscal Year 2016 budgets. The House of Representatives passed the Republican budget by a vote of 228-199. It would balance the budget in a decade, repeal Obamacare, transform Medicare and Medicaid, and cut $1 billion from agriculture over 10 years. The House Agriculture Committee will determine where those cuts will be made.
There were alternative budgets considered during debate in the House, including one by the Democrats, Republican Study Committee, Congressional Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus. The Republican Study Committee’s alternative, which was defeated, included a number of proposed changes to agricultural programs including decoupling farm programs from nutrition programs. This was a huge debate in last year’s farm bill with the agricultural community strongly opposed. The RSC also proposed prohibiting new enrollments in the Conservation Reserve Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program. It would have eliminated the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Foreign Market Development Program, Market Access Program, Farmers Market Promotion Program, sugar program and crop insurance for organic commodities.
The Senate passed the Republican budget by a vote of 52-46. The Senate budget does not give any instructions to the Senate Agriculture Committee. There were over 1,000 amendments filed. Many were messaging amendments that were filed but never considered. The House and Senate will now try to reconcile the differences.