Senate subcommittee advances $20.5B bill funding Agriculture, FDA

Senate subcommittee advances $20.5B bill funding Agriculture, FDA
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A Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would fund the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the next fiscal year.

The bill's contains $20.5 billion in discretionary funding, which is $65 million below the current level and $1.1 billion below President Obama’s request. The bulk of the measure, however, contains $123.3 billion mandatory funding. The text of the bill won't be released until Thursday.

The GOP-led panel included a controversial policy rider that would require pending 2015 Dietary Guidelines to be based “solely on nutritional and scientific evidence and not extraneous information." Republicans included this provision in another spending bill as well.

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The bill also includes a provision that would delay by one year a calorie-count regulation that was scheduled to take effect in December. The FDA, however, announced last week that it would delay the rule anyway until late 2016.

“The bill prioritizes agriculture research and extension activities, promotes rural development efforts, supports food safety and public health initiatives, and prioritizes the development of new medicines and medical devices,” Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranOn The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Overnight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R-Kan.) said in a statement.

For the USDA, the bill would fund agricultural research, loan programs for farmers and ranchers, and the agency that evaluates food safety and inspects meat, poultry and egg products.

The bill contains funding for a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children, for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for low-income people and for a child nutrition program.

“More needs to be done,” Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Dem on call for Nielsen investigation: I am 'sick and tired of this administration lying' Dem senator requests FBI investigate Nielsen for potential perjury Trump officials discussed ‘deterrent effect’ of prosecuting migrant parents: report MORE (D-Ore.) said about the bill’s funding levels. “ In order to protect rural America, our nation’s food supply, and the most vulnerable citizens among us we must have a bipartisan budget agreement that moves this country forward.”

Democrats on the panel said the bill does not include increases for climate change, antibiotic resistance or other research areas.

They also said the bill does not provide requested increases for implementing the FDA Safety and Innovation Act, oversight of drug compounding facilities or evaluating more over-the-counter sunscreens.