Senate, House return for period of intense activity

The Senate and the House will be back in session this week to begin several weeks of intense legislative activity before each begins a break in early August that will extend past Labor Day.

The Senate will come back into session today at 3 p.m. and has a vote scheduled at 5:30 p.m. on the motion to invoke cloture on President Biden’s nomination of Ashish Vazirani to be a deputy undersecretary of defense.

While the Senate Agriculture Committee has not announced any hearings, the committee is under pressure to hold confirmation hearings on Biden’s nominations of Jose Emilio Esteban to be agriculture undersecretary for food safety, Alexis Taylor to be undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs and Stacy Dean to be undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer affairs.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said last month that the committee has not received paperwork from the Biden administration that it needs before scheduling hearings. But Dean told The Hagstrom Report recently that all her paperwork has been sent.

The Senate Finance Committee is in charge of Biden’s nomination of Doug McKalilp to be chief agriculture negotiator within the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. A coalition of farm groups wrote the committee recently urging the members to take up the nomination. The position, which includes the rank of ambassador, requires Senate confirmation.

The Senate also has also not acted on Biden’s nomination of Margo Schlanger to be agriculture assistant secretary for civil rights. The committee approved the nomination in January, though it was not unanimous and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., the ranking member on the committee, voted against approval.

The House goes back into session on Tuesday.

The House Appropriations Committee, which completed action on all fiscal year 2023 appropriations bills last month, has signaled it will bring a package of bills including the agriculture bill, to the floor soon. The full bill is called the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, Rural Development, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2023.

The House Rules Committee has set a deadline of Wednesday for amendments to the bill and said the committee is likely to meet the week of July 18 on the rule.

The House Agriculture Committee has also scheduled hearings this week and both agriculture and nutrition groups are planning briefings for House and Senate aides.


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