This week in Washington: Nov. 14-18

Determining outcome of the government funding bills for fiscal year 2017 high on priority list for Congress.

There are still important policy activities left to the 114th Congress – arguably the most important items on the to-do list will be determining the outcome of the government funding bills for fiscal 2017, which started on Oct. 1. Discretionary government funding is currently operating on a continuing resolution (CR) through Dec. 9, by which time a new bill will be needed to avoid a government shutdown.

Congress will return for a week of legislative work, with budgetary items high on their to-do list.

For the Republican majority in the House and Senate, their choices on appropriations remain much the same as before the election: reach a compromise deal and pass the final fiscal 2017 spending bills; pass a second short-term CR and punt final action into February or March of next year, or pass a full-year CR, keeping government spending for fiscal 2017 identical to spending in 2016 for each of the thousands upon thousands of line items.

The election results may have tilted the field more in the direction of option of kicking the can down the road until early next year when the Republican majority would be negotiating with President Trump rather than President Obama. There remain, however, strong bipartisan reasons for taking care of this year’s business this year — an option the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) said it strongly favors.

“Congress’ ultimate decision should become clear within the next week or two,” NSAC said.

Despite agricultural groups attempting to urge legislators to take up a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the lame-duck session, it is unlikely any movement will be seen over the next few weeks on the trade pact.

On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee will hold another hearing on its ongoing review of the Supplemental Nutrition & Assistance Program. This one focuses on opportunities for improving access to food. It will be held at 10 a.m. To listen live or hear an archive of the hearing, click here.

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