The House of Representatives and Senate have now given final approval to the FY 2013 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill (the Bill) as part of a combined multi-Department omnibus measure, clearing it for the President’s expected signature. The current Continuing Resolution expires on March 27, 2013. The Bill provides $984 billion in total spending, in line with post-sequestration requirements.
The House had on March 6 approved H.R. 933, the Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013. The Senate, as part of its substitute for H.R. 933, included Division A, which effectively serves as a joint agreement reconciling the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bills reported by the House and Senate last year, but never acted upon by the full chambers. Provisions that were in both the House Report (H.Rpt. 112-542) and Senate Report (S.Rpt. 112-163) remain unchanged except as may have been modified in the accompanying Explanatory Statement.
The legislation provides $139.460 billion in both mandatory and discretionary funding. This is an increase of about $2.62 billion over FY 2012. The mandatory funding in the Bill is $118.928 billion, of which more than $97.181 billion goes for food assistance programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP, previously Food Stamps) Program and the Child Nutrition Programs. Discretionary spending will be $20.532 billion in FY 2013, an increase of nearly $1 billion over FY 2012.
While there has been discussion of whether or not this appropriations bill would be used to replace sequestration or to provide some flexibility regarding how sequestration would be applied, no broad action with respect to sequestration was taken. Instead, specific efforts were made to mitigate sequestration for certain programs:
- The Pryor-Blunt amendment supplemented funding for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) by transferring funds within the Agriculture portion of the Bill to offset sequestration and, as a result, avoid the projected furloughs of meat inspectors.
- An increase was provided for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to offset sequestration. FY
- The Senate provides an additional $12.8 million not included in the House bill for the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
- The Senate provides an additional $250 million not included in the House bill for rural water programs.
To finance some of the above and other modifications included in the Bill, an across-the-board reduction in discretionary spending of 2.513% for non-security programs and 0.092% for security programs is included. As a result, this means that there are some programs within USDA that lose 5.1% due to sequestration, and an additional 2.513% due to the reductions in H.R. 933 as amended.