Washington, D.C. Update

November 3, 2023
Senate passes agriculture funding bill
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a three-bill funding package containing the MilCon-VA, Agriculture-FDA, and Transportation-HUD appropriations bills for fiscal year 2024. The bill passed on a bipartisan 82-15 vote. These three bills are the first to pass in the Senate while the House has passed six of twelve bills. Previously the House failed to pass its version of the Agriculture-FDA appropriations bill in September. Members are currently working behind the scenes on changes to the bill that would ease its passage by the full chamber. The federal government is operating under a continuing resolution that will provide funding through November 17.

House considers EPA funding bill
On Thursday, the House began consideration of the Interior and Environment appropriations bill for fiscal year 2024, which contains funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As written, the bill would cut funding to the EPA by $3.9 billion and also contains a provision repealing the EPA’s rule regulating waters of the United States (WOTUS). The Senate passed its version of the bill out of the Appropriations Committee in July, but the full chamber has not yet considered the bill.

Commerce lowers duties on phosphate fertilizers
On Thursday, the Department of Commerce announced it had finalized its review of Moroccan phosphate fertilizers and was lowering the duties levied from 19.97% to 2.12%. These duties were imposed in 2021 after the International Trade Commission (ITC) found that Morocco and Russia had unfairly subsidized fertilizer production and imposed fees on fertilizer imports from the two countries. In September of this year, the U.S. Court of International Trade ordered the ITC to reconsider the decision which resulted in how the duties were calculated.

Farm Bill Rumors
This week there were discussions in the House about completing a farm bill proposal by November 17 in order to begin the process of having it scored by the Congressional Budget Office. This would allow a possible scheduling of farm bill consideration in December. Under this scenario, a separate “short-term” farm bill extension would still be needed by year's end. However, it would allow the House to consider a farm bill on the floor in December. Stay tuned -- there is an enormous amount of work that would need to be accomplished in order to meet this aspirational schedule.
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