Senate work on a continuing resolution to fund the government through September 30th was taking place behind the scenes as amendments were discussed Thursday. Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski stressed that amendments were being scrutinized and that floor action will not proceed until the whole package of amendments is seen. With no agreement reached – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Mikulski came to the Senate floor late Thursday to say the Senate would resume deliberation on the measure Monday. They added that there will be intense pressure to move quickly to get the continuing resolution finished by next Friday – ahead of the Easter-Passover recess.
Four of the amendments are related to agriculture – including the one from Missouri’s Roy Blunt aimed at avoiding meat inspector furloughs. That amendment would allow Cabinet secretaries to declare some federal employees “essential” and move money within accounts to keep them on the job.
The overall continuing resolution bill would provide $20.5 billion for agriculture, rural development, the FDA and related agencies in fiscal year 2013. The bill would also provide $1.4- billion for foreign food assistance, $1.2 billion for the National Institute on Food and Agriculture, nearly $1.1 billion for the Agricultural Research Service, $801 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and $824 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
When Congress resumes deliberations, Reid and Mikulski concede there will be intense pressure to move quickly to get the continuing resolution finished by next Friday – ahead of the Easter-Passover recess.