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May 27, 2021

Washington Week Ahead: Senate tackles stimulus, Vilsack faces farmers

Democrats look to move President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package through the Senate while Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack makes his case for the new administration’s priorities to farm groups this week for the first time in his return to his old job.

The stimulus package, which includes $3.6 billion in aid for the food supply chain as well as $5 billion in historic assistance to minority farmers, passed the House early Saturday 219-212. The American Rescue Plan also includes an increase in domestic food assistance as well as $7.6 billion in funding for connectivity assistance to schools and libraries.

Democrats must figure what to do about the minimum-wage increase that the bill contains; the Senate parliamentarian has ruled the measure out of order under the budget reconciliation rules that Democrats are using to pass the legislation. March 14 is the effective deadline for Congress to get the bill to Biden’s desk since expanded unemployment benefits expire then.  Biden this weekend urged senators to quickly finish work on the legislation. “We have no time to waste,” he said. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the bill addresses “urgent challenges facing our farmers, families, and rural communities. We can’t afford to wait any longer.” She said the “bill includes bold provisions to feed children and families, bolster the food supply chain, address discrimination for farmers of color, and strengthen rural health care providers.” Read more