The House agriculture committee on Friday debated $ 66 billion in new spending on agricultural research, renewable energy and forestry over vigorous objections from Republicans, who used the proceedings to highlight the president’s proposal Joe Biden to raise taxes on inherited assets.
Votes on the Democratic measure and 30 GOP amendments have been postponed until next week.
The legislation was $ 28 billion in conservation spending which, according to committee chair David Scott, D-Ga., Would be added to the measure before it was considered by the House. Scott said the omission was due to delays in obtaining cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. He did not provide any details on the conservation title.
The combined $ 94 billion measure is to be incorporated into a much larger $ 3.5 trillion tax and spending package that Congressional Democrats are putting in place to implement Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
Amendments proposed by Republicans at a nine-hour marathon meeting included several that sought to consign Democrats against Biden’s proposal to tax capital gains on death, creating a tax on intergenerational transfers and effectively reversing the advantage of the reinforced base.
While fighting the GOP amendments, Scott has repeatedly assured Republicans that he also opposes the tax proposal, which falls under the House Ways and Means Committee, not agriculture. Scott sent a letter to the White House in June warning Biden that tax liability could be a “significant burden” on farms.
He said the tax proposal would be “devastating” for farmers and tried to assure Republicans that fellow Democrats were working privately to avoid it. “We have enough Democrats on our side to make a difference” in internal negotiations over tax arrangements, he said.
Scott has repeatedly ruled out of order GOP amendments that sought to force a vote on the transfer tax proposal.
The amendments included one proposed by Kansas Republican Tracey Mann, who appeared at the online hearing of a sorghum field in his home state. He said the committee should take a formal decision on the matter.
Senior Agriculture Committee Republican Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania said that “the hard-working men and women who feed, clothe and feed our nation and the world will be irreparably hurt if the death tax plus the president is allowed to become law. “
The Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have yet to release the revenue provisions needed to offset the cost of the $ 3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill.
The deliberations of the online committee have been repeatedly disrupted by pitfalls, some techniques and others due to inattention by members. Scott had to block the vote on a tax amendment because one Democrat voted the wrong way and others did not vote at all. At another point, a Republican who was simultaneously attending a second committee meeting mistakenly announced her vote on the Ag Committee thread.
The GOP changes also sought, among other things, to eliminate increases in climate change research, ensure that methane digesters would be eligible for funding under the Rural Energy for America program, and phase out or reorient 2, $ 25 billion. in the financing of a Civil Corps for the climate.
Republicans like California’s Doug LaMalfa have argued that a CCC is not necessary because the Forest Service already has a Job body which helps train future forest growers. But Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., Argued that the threat of climate change is precisely why a CCC is needed.
In general, Democrats opposed to the Republican amendments said concerns about the bill they were dealing with were already being addressed by funding the bill or would be addressed in other measures, including the bipartisan bill on infrastructure that has not yet been considered by the House.
Democrats also rejected proposals to direct funding to tackle the introduction of African swine fever, a disease that could devastate the U.S. pork industry. Although the amendments were rejected, Rep. Jim Costa, the California Democrat who chairs the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture subcommittee, has vowed to hold a hearing on the matter this fall.
The debate was generally civil – until eight hours after the meeting began, when an angry Democrat interrupted Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga. Later, Representatives Austin Scott, R-Ga., And Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., Argued over the value of food aid in the event of a pandemic.
At other times, GOP members have said they were frustrated with the lack of hearings before the committee meeting.
Republicans also pushed for the meeting to be delayed until September 20, but Democrats managed to move the meeting forward on a 26-24 vote, according to the party line.
The Agriculture Committee’s measure contains $ 7.75 billion for agricultural research aimed at combating climate change, including $ 2.6 billion for the National Food and Agriculture Institute of the ‘USDA, which funds research at colleges and universities. Another $ 540 million would go to the Food and Agriculture Research Foundation, which combines USDA funding with private research funds.
Some $ 18 billion is for rural development programs, of which $ 9.7 billion would go to rural power cooperatives and rural communities for renewable energy.
Almost $ 3.9 billion would go to a rural partnership program that would help rural communities plan and implement development projects. Some $ 2.6 billion is earmarked for USDA’s Rural Energy for America program, which provides grants and loans for energy efficiency improvements. An additional $ 960 million is earmarked for biofuel infrastructure.
The largest share of funding under Committee on Agriculture provisions, $ 40 billion, would go to forestry programs designed to help prevent forest fires and improve forest health.
Separately on Friday, the House Education and Labor Committee approved its part of the reconciliation plan that includes $ 35 billion in spending on child nutrition.
The education and work arrangements would allow an additional 9 million children to receive free school meals while making low-income children across the country eligible for $ 75 per month in nutritional assistance when they are not. not attending school during the summer. The legislation would allocate $ 634 million for nutrition education and school gardens and an additional $ 500 million to finance the purchase of new school cooking equipment.
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