Year-end Congressional agenda

Prior to Thanksgiving Congress passed, and President Trump signed, a second continuing resolution to fund the federal government through December 20. As the deadline nears, House and Senate appropriators have signaled a $1.37 trillion agreement in principle which would fund all twelve spending measures for the remainder of the fiscal year. The package is expected to be divided into two bills and likely pass the House and Senate by the deadline. As of our publication deadline, it remains unclear whether other measures such as expired tax provisions and retirement reforms could be included in the year-end budget deal.

Regarding the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA), in recent weeks U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has negotiated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richie Neal to make changes to address their concerns regarding the labor enforcement provisions of the trade deal. On December 10, an agreement was announced that includes changes (PDF) sought by congressional Democrats. The House could take up the agreement the week of December 16 with Senate consideration unlikely until next year.

The House continues impeachment proceedings with a possible vote on the House floor the week of December 16. If the House votes to impeach President Trump, as is expected, the Senate would then conduct a mandatory trial – likely beginning in January for a period of time to be determined.

Hemp Rule

On October 31, the USDA released its long-awaited interim final rule establishing the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program as required by the 2018 Farm Bill. The rule includes provisions for USDA to approve hemp production plans developed by states and Indian tribes including requirements for maintaining information on hemp production lands, testing the levels of THC, disposing of plants not meeting necessary requirements and licensing requirements. The rule also allows for the establishment of a federal plan for hemp producers in states or territories of Indian tribes that do not have their own approved hemp production plan. When approved state and tribal plans are in place, hemp producers will be eligible for a number of USDA programs including crop insurance, farm loans, and conservation programs.