Notables From Appropriations Process

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During the past two weeks, the House Appropriations Committee has passed all of its Fiscal 2021 funding bills out of subcommittee and some bills out of full committee. The House plans to take up all of the annual spending bills on the House floor by the end of July. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet scheduled action on its Fiscal 2021 funding measures.

On Thursday, the Appropriations Committee passed the Agriculture-Rural Development and FDA funding bill for FY 2021. The bill includes funding for rural broadband and food nutrition programs. It also includes $1.835 billion for farm programs and $1.07 billion for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, $27 million above the fiscal year 2020 level. According to the committee, the funding increase will help address pests such as the spotted lanternfly. The measure also continues a provision of law that allows USDA to waive matching fund requirements for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, a high priority item for AmericanHort.

On July 10, the Appropriations Committee passed the Interior and Environment funding bill by a vote of 30-19. The bill would provide $9.38 billion for EPA, an increase of $318 million above the FY 2020 funding level and $2.67 billion above the President’s Fiscal 2021 budget request.

The non-binding report language that accompanies the bill would do the following:

  • Direct EPA within 30 days of enactment to submit a report to Congress about the scientific analysis included in the final ‘‘The Navigable Waters Protection Rule: Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’.” It also directs EPA to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to prepare a report within one year on the rule’s impact on “physical, biological, and chemical integrity of the Nation’s waters” and to compare those impacts to the impacts of the Waters of the U.S. rule issued under the Obama Administration.
  • Urge EPA to “establish standards of use for chlorpyrifos in order to reduce potential exposure to children and other vulnerable populations” and report to Congress within 60 days on enactment on its plan to reduce children’s exposure to the pesticide.
  • Direct EPA within 180 days of enactment to provide information on the nexus between pesticide use and climate change mitigation, the ability of regenerative organic agriculture to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide and to sequester carbon and to evaluate the adverse effects pesticides may have on pollinators and other insects, wildlife and water quality.
  • Direct the Department of the Interior to report to Congress within 120 days of enactment on the status of its efforts to assist with monarch butterfly recovery.

Also last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security passed its Fiscal 2021 funding bill. While the bill does not currently contain any provisions related to the H-2B program, we expect the issue to come up during the July 15 full committee markup. Reps. Pingree (D-ME) and Harris (R-MD) plan to offer an amendment to address the H-2B cap.

Reps. Pingree and Harris plan to offer the same amendment that passed the committee last year. It would state that the Department of Homeland Security “shall” issue additional H-2B visas if it determines the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be met with U.S. workers. The language of the amendment is similar to a provision of law that was included in spending measures for the past few years, but it seeks to take away some of the discretion from DHS by changing the word “may” to “shall.”

We will provide you with an update on this bill and other appropriations bills as they move through the process.

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