Washington Recap and Forecast


After a longer than usually August recess Congress reconvened the 2nd week of September. As is normal in an election year, Congress has not handled major policy. Instead it is focusing on smaller, noncontroversial bills which members can campaign on. With the election right around the corner (November 2nd is Election Day) this looks like the last week Congress will be in session before going back into recess to allow members to campaign. Here is a quick recap of what happened in Washington the week of September 20.

House Floor:

On September 23rd, the House passed, 237 to 187, the Senate version of H.R. 5297, the Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010. The bill will be signed into law by the President next week. Farm Bureau supported passage. H.R. 5297 would modify a number of Small Business Administration (SBA) statutes on loan limits and fee reductions. The bill would reform and expand small business export assistance programs under the SBA. Additionally, the bill would address small business parity in federal contracting.

The House voted on numerous bills on the suspension calendar. The suspension calendar is used to handle small, noncontroversial bills that do not need to follow regular order (the process of introduction, committee hearings, committee markup, floor proceedings) but they must pass the House by 2/3rds majority.

House Committees:

Energy and Commerce:

The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing entitled “The Outbreak of Salmonella in Eggs” on Wednesday, September 22, 2010. The hearing examined the recent Salmonella outbreak associated with eggs produced by Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms of Iowa.

Judiciary:

On Friday September 24, the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law held a hearing to look at migrant agriculture workers.

Senate Floor:

The Senate debated the National Defense Authorization Act. This bill authorizes funds for the Department of Defense.

Senate Committees:

Senate Agriculture Committee:

On Thursday September 23, the Senate Agricultural Committee held an oversight hearing to examine the impact of EPA regulation on agriculture. The committee heard from EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. The Senators on the committee made it very clear that EPA’s regulations and proposed regulations are viewed as being openly hostile to agriculture. The committee also heard from Rich Hillman, Vice President of the Arkansas Farm Bureau.

Administration:

H.R. 5297, the Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010 is expected to be signed into law by the President. Farm Bureau supported passage.

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