Aug 1, 2023
Rural Voices weighs in on USDA funding bill delays

Rural Voices USA, an organization that promotes the interests of rural Americans, is expressing opposition to Republican efforts delaying passage of the U.S. Department of Agriculture FY24 funding bill.

Lawmakers must meet a Sept. 30 deadline, when the current fiscal year expires, on funding the government or risking a partial government shutdown. During the end of July, the House was scheduled to vote on an appropriations bill which would fund agriculture programs, rural development initiatives and the Food and Drug Administration, but plans to move the appropriations bill to the House floor were brought to a halt amid internal GOP division over whether to further slash spending and a provision related to abortion, according to a report in The Hill.

Rural Voices USAOne House Republican told The Hill that the bill isn’t expected to come to the floor until when lawmakers return in mid-September. “A main point of contention on the measure is a provision that would nullify a Biden administration rule allowing the abortion pill mifepristone to be sold in retail pharmacies and by mail with prescriptions from a certified health care provider,” The Hill reported.

Rural Voices opposes the House GOP proposal to slash fiscal 2024 USDA funding by one-third.

“It’s hard to watch lawmakers who largely represent rural communities gut funding that goes directly to those same rural communities,” Chris Gibbs, Rural Voices’ president, said in a news release. “By slashing funding for the USDA budget by one-third, the House GOP is showing how backward their priorities are. Instead of allowing rural communities to play a meaningful role in industries of the future, like home-grown biofuels for the consumer, industry, and aviation, this proposal would leave rural communities behind. Rural communities cannot stay silent as proposals like this zero out investments that would give rural areas a fighting chance to stay relevant economically in the future.”

Moderate Republicans have vocally opposed the abortion provision, warning that they will not support the bill unless the provision is removed. The move threatens Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s passage. With all Democrats expected to vote against the legislation, McCarthy can only afford to lose a handful of Republicans and still clear the measure, according to The Hill.

Hardline conservatives, including members of the House Freedom Caucus, warned Republican leaders they would oppose appropriations bills that didn’t include assurances on spending cuts, according to a Reuters report.

Rural Voices is a national non-profit that organizes rural Americans to advocate, communicate, and hold policy makers accountable for rural issues. Rural Voices is a 501 (c)4 non-profit bipartisan organization dedicated to ensuring the voices and views of rural Americans are heard in the policy debates impacting their lives.

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