Senate Appropriations Committee approves Agriculture bill |

Senate Appropriations Committee approves Agriculture bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee approves the Agriculture bill at today's markup.
Photo by Jerry Hagstrom/The Hagstrom Report

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Sept. 19 approved a bill to fund the Agriculture Department and related agencies for fiscal year 2020.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters after the markup that Senate Appropriations ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has proposed packaging the Agriculture bill with other smaller bills including Energy & Water to bring them to the Senate floor.

Shelby said that the decision would be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., said he would go along with that approach.

The bill provides discretionary funding of $23.1 billion, $58 million over the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $4.1 billion over the budget request.

The full committee did not make changes to the bill approved by the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday. The Senate bill contains a provision providing USDA $25 million to relocate the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to Kansas City. The House bill attempts to stop the moves, and the difference between the two bills on the moves is expected to be an issue in conference between the House and the Senate.

Hoeven added a manager’s amendment that included provisions directing Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to study the impact of any proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on children, seniors, individuals with disabilities and rural and poor communities.

The manager’s amendment also contained a provision directing Perdue to identify approaches that could keep school children from “lunch shaming” over unpaid school meal bills.

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