via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.
Senate Budget panel to act on its version
today, floor action next week
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Wednesday night, the House Budget Committee passed the $3.6 trillion FY10
budget resolution on a 24-15 party-line vote, sending it to the floor
next week. The Senate Budget Committee will likely approve its budget
resolution measure today.
Importantly, the House measure includes reconciliation instructions
to allow legislation implementing Obama’s health and education
policies to move later in the year without the threat of a Senate filibuster.
The House measure also instructs the House Energy and Commerce
and the Ways and Means committees to find $1 billion each in deficit
savings by the end of September.
Whether to include reconciliation provisions in the final
budget resolution will be the biggest issue for House and Senate negotiators
when they work on a conference agreement next month. Neither
Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) nor Senate Finance Chairman
Max Baucus (D-Mont.) favors reconciliation instructions on health care,
because such a move would incite partisan tensions and they believe
the process should be used only for deficit reduction. “I don’t
believe reconciliation was ever intended for this purpose,” Conrad
House Budget ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said
adding reconciliation into the budget on the House side is “violating
the spirit of the Byrd rule.” The Byrd rule bars extraneous provisions
from being included in a reconciliation bill. It takes 60 votes to waive
Neither the House nor the Senate proposals include any money
for the Treasury Department’s Troubled Assets Relief Program,
although the White House included $250 billion.
Neither measure extended President Obama’s tax breaks
included in the stimulus package beyond two years or extended
a tax break for businesses that lose money.
As for agriculture spending cuts, the
Senate budget resolution measure does not include the Obama administration-pushed
phase out over three years in direct payments for producers with gross
sales over $500,000, nor does it include changes in the farm program payment
However, the budget is not the end for the Obama/Vilsack proposals,
White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director
Peter Orszag said yesterday. Orszag said the administration plans to
work to advance the subsidy cuts through other legislation. He said
he would continue to consult with Conrad and House Agriculture Chairman
Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who also opposed the plan. "There's
lots of different ways of getting at this issue, and we will be working
with not only Senator Conrad, but also Chairman Peterson and others
to fashion legislation that saves money on agricultural subsidies, especially
to large farms," Orszag said. "And there are lots of different
ways of doing that."
The Senate budget resolution includes a total of around $2.5
billion in non-mandatory savings with spending cuts for the
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Market Access Program
(MAP), and crop insurance. It would be up to the committees that control
the programs, such as Agriculture and Appropriations, to set the actual
spending levels for them. Conrad did not include the Conservation Reserve
Program among potential areas for savings because of uncertainties about
the cost of the program.
Comments: Without specific
reconciliation language calling for budget savings, the Senate's proposed
budget savings in agriculture are just that -- a proposal. Most will not
likely show up in a final budget bill.
This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or
retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.