House making its way through agriculture appropriations amendments

The amendment did generate plenty of debate, most of which focused on Democratic arguments against the cuts.

Also by voice vote, members accepted language from Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) that would take $1 million from USDA's Chief Information Officer and transfer it to the Rural Energy for America Program.

The House also accepted language from Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.) that takes $5 million in USDA administrative expenses and moves it to the Women, Infants and Children's Farmers' Market Nutrition program. Similarly, they accepted an amendment from Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.) that would reduce USDA's budget for miscellaneous supplies by 10 percent.

Several other amendments will require a recorded vote. These would take $1 million from USDA administration accounts and give it to the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the Food and Drug Administration (DeLauro), eliminate language that makes it harder for private sector companies to perform certain jobs (Pete Sessions, R-Texas), and move funds away from the USDA buildings account to an organic agriculture initiative (Sam Farr, D-Calif.). Another would reduce the USDA buildings account by 10 percent (Paul Broun, R-Ga.).

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced language that would eliminate $1.8 billion in funding for USDA's Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service, and the National Agriculture Statistics Service. Chaffetz said he hoped these cuts would prompt these three bureaus to work together. It would also substantially cut the Food for Peace program.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) argued against the cuts in light of the cuts already in the bill, and a recorded vote was requested on this language as well.

As the evening wore on past 11 p.m. the House considered several more amendments.

Broun requested votes on two further amendments that would transfer about $15 million in total from government programs into a fund dedicated to deficit reduction.

Members also approved an amendment authored by Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) that would add $2 million to the Agriculture Research Service and subtract from the Foreign Agriculture Service by $2.5 million.

Clarke, meanwhile, introduced an additional amendment that would transfer $1 million from Building and Facilities to Agriculture Marketing Services and Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) offered an amendment that would transfers $10 million from Farm Service Agency, Salaries and Expenses to the Commodity Assistance Program. Both amendments will see votes most likely on Wednesday. 

The House adjourned at 11:35 p.m. on Tuesday and is set to return at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

-- This story was updated at 12:18 a.m. on Wednesday to reflect debate on additional amendments.

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