Budget Work Continues as Congress Nears Adjournment

December 10, 2010 Bookmark and Share

While a tax compromise grabbed the headlines this week, work continued in Congress to determine how the government will be funded for the remainder of FY2011.

On Tuesday, the House passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through the end of the current fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2011.

However, with opposition bubbling up from all sides and 60 votes needed to move any legislation, it remains unclear whether the Senate will ultimately support the House CR; attempt to pass an omnibus appropriations bill with additional spending over and above the House CR; or pass their own modified CR.

One area of the debate NAWG and other agricultural groups are watching closely is the fate of research funding.

NAWG and more than 30 other organizations wrote House and Senate appropriators Monday asking that any budget actions not diminish funding for agriculture research.

Of particular concern are research grants directed by Congress to solve problems impacting specific regions and commodities.

In the House-passed bill, this funding in the form of earmarks was eliminated, but an equivalent amount was sent to the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to fund research programs.

Other programs funded annually with the discretionary budget are also of concern to the agriculture industry.

For instance, NAWG and 18 other agricultural and energy organizations wrote Senate appropriators last week urging them to support funding for programs in the energy title of the 2008 Farm Bill.

“Shifting this funding now, just as advanced biofuels refineries and other clean energy development projects are taking root, would thwart our nation’s economic and environmental goals and hurt rural economies,” the groups told Members.

The federal government is currently operating under a short-term CR passed last week, which expires Dec. 18. Congress aims to adjourn by Dec. 17, so action of some type will occur in the coming days.