Congress Back in Session This Week

After a seven-week recess, Congress returns to session this week as many have little expectation lawmakers will accomplish much of anything with the November elections looming. Topping the discussion is likely to be the highly debated Zika virus funding, marred in a spat between Democrats and Republicans over last-minute additions to the bill. For agriculture, the wish list remains long regardless of the expectations. Farm groups plan to push support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which is expected to be sent to Congress after the elections in the lame-duck session. One need for Congress before the election is the passage of appropriation bills, including funding for the Department of Agriculture. However, the expectation again is Congress will pass a catch-all spending bill, known as a continuing resolution. Farm Groups are also trying to jump start discussions on the next Farm Bill, saying pressure from falling commodity prices and lower farm income is forcing the need to reassess Farm Bill programs sooner rather than later. Senators say however, those discussions seem much more likely next spring. Energy and tax incentive bills are also issues likely to see some action in the short session before lawmakers head back to the campaign trail.

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