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Politics Bipartisan gripes as House Ag set to continue debate on spending package

17:21  15 september  2021
17:21  15 september  2021 Source:   politico.com

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The House Agriculture Committee will vote next week on its piece of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, after wrapping up debate on some 30 amendments late Friday night.

a man sitting at a table: Chair David Scott (D-Ga.) said that an additional $28 billion to boost conservation programs and climate-friendly farming would be added when the reconciliation bill goes to the House floor. © Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images Chair David Scott (D-Ga.) said that an additional $28 billion to boost conservation programs and climate-friendly farming would be added when the reconciliation bill goes to the House floor.

Key context: During a contentious nine-hour markup, Republicans offered dozens of amendments ranging from food assistance and work requirements to revoking funds for the Civilian Climate Corps, a Biden administration proposal to enlist young Americans in the fight against climate change. But Democrats appeared set to reject each of the proposals when the committee reconvenes next week for votes.

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The legislation includes billions of dollars for forestry, climate research, rural development and other programs that are generally popular on both sides of the aisle. But key provisions related to conservation and farm debt relief were left out of the draft text as negotiations continue behind the scenes.

Chair David Scott (D-Ga.) said that an additional $28 billion to boost conservation programs and climate-friendly farming would be added when the reconciliation bill goes to the House floor.

“We’re in a process where we’ve got both the Senate and the House moving ahead on this, so we’re not dealing in concrete just yet,” Scott said.

That was a point of frustration for members in both parties. Republicans also decried the lack of information on potential tax increases that would accompany the massive spending plan.

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“We’re debating an incomplete bill, with unknown implications for every single person that we each represent,” said ranking member G.T. Thompson (R-Pa.).


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Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who chairs the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee, said the markup should have been delayed until the legislation was complete.

“I have significant concerns about the fact that we are proceeding with this markup without the $28 billion detailed related to conservation spending,” Spanberger said. “I would like to see the committee have the opportunity to actually vote on them and go through the markup process.”

However, Democrats blocked a GOP motion to postpone the markup on a 26-24 vote.

Tax concerns: Republicans on the committee also blasted President Joe Biden’s proposal to eliminate a longstanding tax break for valuable property passed down to descendants when the owner dies, a move they say would hurt family farms and small businesses.

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Several Democrats echoed their concerns about eliminating the “stepped-up basis” for such transactions. Scott noted that the tax change was not included in the agriculture section of the reconciliation package.

“I want you to know that it is not in this bill, and it is my hope that it will not be in the final one as well,” Scott said. “It would be devastating.”

The Biden administration has promised that families who continue operating the inherited farm or business would not be affected by the change unless they decide to sell, and even then, up to $2.5 million in capital gains would be exempt from taxes.

Still, Thompson called it the “elephant in the room” and claimed that farmers are “terrified, as they should be.”

What’s next: The panel hasn’t yet scheduled a time to reconvene for votes, but Scott said it would likely be early next week.

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usr: 1
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