House Rules to meet today, House Ag approps vote Thursday
January 8, 2019
House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., has begun presiding over the committee's meeting today to organize for the 116th Congress and discuss rules for four fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills that House Democrats intend to bring up as stand-alone measures, including the agriculture bill.
McGovern is the former House Agriculture Nutrition Subcommittee ranking member but has left the House Agriculture Committee upon becoming House Rules Committee chairman.
Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said today that the House would vote on the agriculture and interior bills on Thursday.
The Democratic leadership has scheduled the votes to put pressure on President Donald Trump to agree to reopen the departments including agriculture that are closed.
Trump is scheduled to speak to the nation at 9 p.m. tonight and there is speculation he plans to declare a national emergency at the border with Mexico, which would allow him to access Defense Department funds without congressional approval and pave a way for him to agree to sign bills that would reopen the government.
On Monday, House Appropriations Committee Democrats said in a statement that the House would consider the Agriculture Department, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies bill as a stand alone measure.
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The Democrats emphasized that the bill would provide funds for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps.
"Passing it will ensure families do not lose their SNAP benefits," the Democrats said.
"House Democrats' bill, which is virtually identical to legislation that has already passed the Senate on a 92-6 vote, will reopen these agencies and stop some the worst impacts of the Trump shutdown on families, businesses and communities," the Democrats said.
According to the news release, the bill "provides $23.235 billion in discretionary funding, $225 million above the FY2018 enacted level. In addition, it provides the latest estimates for mandatory programs required by law — including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and child nutrition programs. It will ensure that the Department of Agriculture and the FDA are both able to operate through Sept. 30."
"The bill rejects President Trump's proposed budget cuts to agriculture, rural development and conservation programs. It includes funding for rural broadband that President Trump had proposed eliminating.
"Finally, it rejects President Trump's proposed elimination of Food for Peace and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, both which provide lifesaving food assistance overseas."