With less than two weeks before the current spending package expires, lawmakers are working on a package to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2021. R.J. Karney, American Farm Bureau Federation Congressional Relations Director, says the negotiations are ongoing.
"The federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution which will expire on December 11, and the House and Senate have agreed to top line spending amounts for all 12 appropriation bills," Karney said. "The next step is for the subcommittee chairs to finalize and agree on the specific allocations within their specific bill."
Karney says Farm Bureau has a list of priorities for the agriculture spending bill, including an extension and additional funding for the Wildfire, Hurricane Indemnity Program, or WHIP+.
"This is critical for the farmers and ranchers impacted by the numerous hurricanes, the derecho, the flooding and the wildfires that have persisted throughout 2020," Karney said. "The derecho is currently not a qualifying disaster event because under current USDA guidelines, unlike hurricanes, derechos are not named storms. So, AFBF is requesting there be a policy change to allow farmers and ranchers impacted by the derecho to receive funding from the WHIP+ program."
Karney says it appears Congress has all intentions to finalize 2021 spending bills.
"There are a lot of politics still to play out over the next two weeks and a lot of discussions will occur both within the House and Senate committee chairs, but then also within the leadership and in coordination with the White House," Karney said. "If Congress is unable to come to a resolution, then we would likely see another continuing resolution which would extend early into the next Congress and the new administration."