House Republican leaders are laying the groundwork for the Agriculture Appropriations bill to move to the floor as one of the first items of business after the July 4 recess.  The House Rules Committee this week issued an open rule on the fiscal year 2014 bill, H.R. 2410, meaning that an unlimited number of amendments can be proposed on the bill.  The rule also provides one hour of general debate equally divided and controlled by the chair Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and ranking Representative Sam Farr  (D-CA).

At the Rules Committee, Chairman Aderholt said the measure providing $19.45 billion in discretionary funds represents a $1.35- billion cut from enacted levels and is also $516 million less than President Obama requested.  But he said the cuts it requires are much less severe than facing other programs.  Ranking Member Farr expressed concerns about the 7.3-percent cut in the bill to the Women, Infants and Children program, and the $10-million cut in the budget of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, but he supports moving the bill through the process.

However, the bill’s future remains uncertain given that the Senate is not expected to take up its version of the Agriculture Appropriations bill any time soon.  In addition,  the White House Office of Management of Budget (OMB) issued a veto threat against the House bill while the Rules Committee was meeting on Tuesday this week.

In a “Statement of Administration Policy,” OMB said the administration strongly opposes House passage of the agriculture measure because it “severely undermines” key investments in financial oversight and essentially would cripple Wall Street reforms.  OMB also said it opposes the bill because of its cuts in rural economic development; renewable energy development; nutrition programs; food safety; agriculture research; and international food aid.