Senate Votes to Avoid FSIS Furloughs
The Senate approved legislation to fund the government through September 30th on a 73 to 26 vote Wednesday. The Senate bill expands on the original House CR - which contained two full bills for Defense and for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs - adding Agriculture; Commerce, Justice and Science; and Homeland Security. The measure is headed to the House. It is expected to go to the floor today (Thursday) without amendment to avert a government shutdown. The measure does include an amendment to prevent furloughs of meat and poultry inspectors. The amendment was adopted by voice vote. The amendment - endorsed by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Tuesday - would transfer approximately 55-million dollars in existing USDA funds to FSIS in order to ensure food inspectors are not furloughed. Furloughs would force meat processing facilities to stop operating because federal law requires facilities to have inspectors on the production line in order to operate.
The Senate's continuing resolution also includes an amendment to prohibit the expenditure of federal funds to enforce the Environmental Protection Agency's Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure rule against farmers. In addition - the Agriculture section of the bill funds implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act with an additional 12.8-million dollars not included in the House bill.
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