Between a Rock and Hard Place

Congress is struggling to find a path forward to keep the government up and running as the clock ticks toward a government shutdown. The money runs out on September 30th for most government operations.

The appropriations process is always complicated with lots of posturing by both parties and chambers. This year is more contentious for a couple of reasons. Both chambers of Congress have committed to “regular order,” a process by which bills would proceed through the committees  – including hearings and a markup, where committee members have a chance to amend and improve the bill – before being referred to the full Senate and House for additional debate and deliberation. However, the intent to move forward in an orderly and transparent fashion is not going as planned. Although the Senate moved its appropriation bills out of committees, the House is stalled. The House has only moved one appropriation bill and attempts to move the others have been blocked.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is at the center of this drama. In addition to a tight deadline, he has an uncooperative group of members in the House who have issued demands on what they will or will not support in a short-term funding bill to keep the government running.

Some of the same Members have drawn a hard line on spending that is at odds with the Senate budget numbers and priorities. Back to the headline  – Speaker McCarthy is caught between unhappy House Republicans and a Senate Democratic majority. He is now trying to float the concept of bundling several funding bills together into a “minibus” instead of an all-encompassing omnibus.

On the sidelines is the Farm Bill. AHC participated in several meetings over the past week with other stakeholders to discuss the timing and content of the Farm Bill. The consensus from these meetings is there is no chance the bill will be reauthorized by the September 30th deadline. We are told House Agriculture Committee Chairman Thompson is poised to act on an extension at the appropriate time; the complication this go around is the looming government shutdown.

What does it all mean? If there is a shut down, there will be a curtailment of government programs and services. AHC is monitoring and will be reporting on contingency plans as announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies relevant to the equine industry.