Senate Appropriations Committee kicks off new session with debate over USDA, FDA funding

With Congress back in session this week in Washington, the Senate plans to tackle a series of spending bills.

With Congress back in session this week in Washington, the Senate plans to tackle a series of spending bills, which promises for a week of intense debates. One of the key topics on the agenda is funding for crucial government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“The Senate appropriations process has been a shining example of how things should get done in Washington,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Wednesday. “These are times when people are divided. This is a closely divided chamber. But nevertheless, we can summarize the Senate’s work funding the government in one word: bipartisan.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is advocating for a robust amendment process for the spending bill, suggesting there may be room for changes and improvements to the funding allocations for USDA and FDA.

Sen. Jon Tester, the Democrat from Montana and another member of the Appropriations Committee member expressed his optimism about the process being fairly open and his readiness to get these budgets passed.

“The shorter the better,” said Sen. Tester. “I want to get the bills done so that they have predictability in government, not to waste taxpayer dollars.”

The primary focus of this Senate debate will be issues directly impacting farm programs that play a pivotal role in supporting farmers across the country, making them a critical aspect of agricultural policy. However, it is important to note that while related, this debate is separate from the 2023 Farm Bill —which is set to expire at the end of September — and these distinct legislative matters have different timelines and implications.

The National Farmers Union 2023 Fall Legislative Fly-In is also happening this week in Washington, Sept. 11-13. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small took the stage Monday morning to deliver remarks and welcome participants to the Capitol. The pair highlighted how the current administration is working to build new markets, increase competition, and grow producer income.

Throughout the event, participants will receive briefings with lawmakers regarding key issues related to the Farm Bill as well as attend special meetings with legislators. For a full agenda, click here.