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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - May 28, 2024

House Committee Advances Farm Bill


Washington Update


Appropriations

On Thursday, May 23, the full House Appropriations Committee passed a dozen GOP totals for their FY25 spending bills in a party-line vote. For the second year in a row, Democrats are accusing Republicans of backing out of their bipartisan funding deal. House Republicans passed legislation out of committee to fund military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs for most of next year, marking the first of the 12 partisan FY25 funding bills the GOP hopes to move out of committee and across the House floor by the end of July. On Thursday, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (NY) said the GOP’s funding bills have ‘zero chance of becoming law.’ The Senate has yet to decide on top-line numbers for FY25, as Senate Republicans have also disregarded calls for parity in increases to defense and nondefense levels.


2024 Farm Bill

On Thursday, May 23, the House Agriculture Committee held a markup on its version of the massive $1.5 trillion farm bill. After much heated debate, four of the committee's 25 Democrats ultimately voted to advance the bill, but Democrats are still pushing Republican leaders to restart bipartisan negotiations regarding the legislation.

The bill includes a provision that would create an “Expanding Childcare in Rural America Initiative,” which would require the Agriculture Department to give funding priorities in certain rural development programs, like the Community Facilities Programs, to projects that expand access to child care or address the cost of care, among other things. In addition to child care providers defined under the Child Care and Development Block Grant, school-based child care projects would also be prioritized. It also includes a measure requiring the agriculture secretary to inform state leaders that they’re required to match funding one-to-one between 1890 land-grant historically Black colleges and universities and 1862 land-grant colleges and universities. Last fall, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona sent letters to 16 governors asking them to boost land-grant HBCU funds and pointed out inequities in funding. The draft bill also includes a measure to boost the number of “Centers of Excellence” allowed at 1890 institutions to no less than eight. The measure would allow more land-grant HBCUs to have agriculture-based research centers on subjects like food safety and conservation.

House Democrats are expressing frustration regarding House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member David Scott’s approach to farm bill negotiations — rumors have even circulated that Democrats are discussing sidelining him as lead negotiator. This is not the first time Scott has faced attempts to remove him as lead on the House Agriculture panel. 

Click here to access a video of the markup.


Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending May 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 215,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 222,000 to 223,000. The 4-week moving average was 219,750, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 217,750 to 218,000. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.2 percent for the week ending May 11, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. 

Click here to access the full report.

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