Reports: Congress to take up CR next week as OMB seeks USDA fixes
House Democratic leaders are working on a tentative plan to take up a temporary spending bill the week of Sept. 12 that would extend current government funding levels through Dec. 16, Roll Call has reported.
That end date is the House’s adjournment target for the 117th Congress, and it could still shift in talks with Senate leaders, who are planning to be in session a few extra days, through Dec. 21, Roll Call added.
Meanwhile, the White House Office of Management on Friday sent Congress a letter seeking fixes for a list of programs including several at the Agriculture Department. OMB also sought $47 billion in emergency funds to combat the coronavirus, secure new monkeypox vaccines, bolster Ukraine’s defenses and respond to devastating floods in Kentucky, The Washington Post reported.
The letter said language for USDA is needed:
▪ To continue activities under the 2022 appropriations acts and the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to maintain program levels under current law.
▪ To prevent the fiscal year 2022 enacted $73 million rescission of unobligated balances from prior-year appropriations in the Department of Agriculture’s Buildings and Facilities account from recurring during the period of the CR. USDA is planning to award a contract for the next phase of a building modernization project before the end of FY 2022, but “it is possible that the award will not be made until the first month of FY 2023.”
▪ To provide the Agriculture Department with additional flexibility to meet the demand for direct and guaranteed farm ownership loans without artificially increasing the total loan levels available under the CR.
▪ To authorize the Agriculture Department to obligate funds provided by the CR in the Farm Service Agency, salaries and expenses account using the budget structure proposed in the FY 2023 budget request, which provides a separate appropriation to county committees from within the account. “Without the anomaly, FSA would need to execute this activity in the salaries and expenses account under the FY 2022 budget structure during the CR using non-expenditure transfers and written apportionments. Without the anomaly, manual adjustments of the obligations and disbursements would be required, resulting in an administrative burden adversely impacting FSA’s mission execution, as staff would devote more time to duplicative administrative work.”
▪ To provide the Agriculture Department with authority to spend appropriations in the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program account on the cost of direct loans, in addition to grants that are already authorized, to ensure continued operation of the program during the period of the CR. In FY 2022, the program has a negative subsidy rate, but beginning in FY 2023 it will have a positive subsidy rate. This anomaly would provide authority to spend appropriations available under the CR on the subsidy cost of direct loans in compliance with the Federal Credit Reform Act.
Continuing resolutions typically continue funding for government agencies at previous levels, but sometimes changes are made to fix budgetary problems and money is added for emergency measures.
Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have introduced a bill to double USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program funding.
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