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CRAMER: Continuing Resolution Funds Government Through April, Addresses Farm Loan Backlog

Dec 8, 2016
Press Release

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer announced  the Fiscal Year 2017 Continuing Resolution  passed by the House of Representatives today includes language giving the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) more authority over funding loan programs.

The $1.07 trillion bill continues funding the government through April 28, maintaining funding at the current budget cap levels. “This bill prevents a government shutdown on Friday, and includes provisions to continue essential government operations, including national defense,” said Cramer.   

The bill’s USDA loan provision allows the agency to make loans to farmers and ranchers in proportion to demand, ensuring it can offer credit to producers when demand for loans peak.  “This will prevent a recurrence of the situation encountered this year where USDA faced a loan application backlog when it ran out of funds for its direct and guaranteed operating loans,” he said. “Our farmers and producers need to know they can move into this next production year having loan options available to them, should they need them, and they almost certainly will need them. Once we get past this we have got to work on the next farm bill modernizing the loan program so it’s set up to meet contemporary agriculture issues and demands for capital.”

The legislation also includes a provision relating to hours of service rules for truck drivers.  It requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to follow the existing 34-hour restart rule for truckers to ensure continuity in federal rest regulations.  The Obama Administration issued new rest requirements that are not yet final, pending a Congressionally mandated report from DOT demonstrating the new rule's effectiveness by meeting certain benchmarks. 

Language in the bill also streamlines the process for confirming General James Mattis as the Secretary of Defense in the Trump Administration. The bill expedites consideration of legislation providing an exception to the prohibition against appointing a Secretary of Defense who was on active duty within the last seven years.  Mattis retired in 2013.

Highlights of the FY2017 Continuing Resolution include:

·         Provides funding for the federal government through April 28, 2017 at a rate of $1.070 trillion

·         Includes total defense funding level is $8 billion higher than the current Continuing Resolution

  • $5.8 billion for Department of Defense Overseas Contingency Operations
  • $4.3 billion for State Department/USAID Overseas Contingency Operations, which is below the President’s request
  • Funding to support counterterrorism, counter Russian aggression, and provide embassy security

·         Includes $4.1 billion to help families and communities rebuild and recover from recent flooding

o   $1.8 billion for Community Development Block Grants

o   $1.025 billion to repair damaged Corps of Engineers projects

o   $1 billion for emergency relief through the Federal Highway Administration

o   $206 million for Department of Agriculture watershed protection programs

o   $74.7 million to repair damaged NASA facilities

·      Supports the 21st Century Cures Act with $872 million in funding - $20 million for the Food and Drug Administration, $352 million for the National Institutes of Health, and $500 million for states to continue to respond to the opioid epidemic

·        Provides $170 million in discretionary (fully offset) spending for states dealing with drinking water emergencies, like the current situation in Flint, Michigan

·        Continues policies contained in existing appropriations law, including pro-life riders and prohibitions on transfers from Guantanamo Bay or its closure

·        Includes a provision to provide $45 million, fully offset, for continued health care benefits for certain retired miners under the United Mine Workers Association 1993 Benefit Plan. This is necessary to prevent the loss of health care coverage for these miners and their families, scheduled to expire on Dec. 31.

·        Does not include an anomaly providing funding for the resettlement of Syrian refugees

·        Provides additional funding, if needed, for the housing and care of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) after February 1, 2017. This will allow the new President to decide on obligation of funds.