Members of both the House and Senate were in their districts this week for a Presidents Day recess, but intense budget discussions continued in Washington with just a week to go before the law funding the federal government expires.
The debate is over how to fund – and what to cut from – 2011 fiscal year spending. The fiscal year began Oct. 1, 2010, but a series of continuing resolutions have provided stop-gap funding since then. The current continuing resolution, which largely provides for a simple extension of 2010 fiscal year spending, expires on March 4, next Friday.
With just days left, it is unclear how federal programs will be funded after that date, or if the federal government will be forced to shut down non-essential services pending new legislation.
Late last week, the House passed a proposal that would cut an estimated $62 billion from government spending, or $100 billion from the Obama Administration’s FY2011 proposal – a goal many conservative Republicans set during last year’s election season.
However, this proposal will not meet with approval in the Senate, and little time remains to find a compromise that satisfies everyone.
Late this week, word came that House Republicans would soon introduce a two-week extension of FY2010 funding with $4 billion in cuts.
That proposal won’t fly in the Senate, the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said this week. For his part, Reid is said to be preparing to introduce a 30-day extension of current funding without cuts while Senate Democrats work on a longer-term CR with cuts.
NAWG joined others in the agricultural community last week in recognizing the necessity for cuts, but also expressing concerns about the agriculture proposals in the House bill and requesting changes to bring equity to the process.
The House-passed bill would cut 22 percent from programs covered under the House Appropriations Committee’s agriculture subcommittee, more than twice the average cut of 10 percent from non-defense, discretionary spending.
NAWG policy staff members continue to follow the political jockeying and proposal details and will report to states and grower-leaders as needed in the coming days.