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Capitol Hill Slowly Focuses On Non-COVID, Non-Election Issues

It may seem the only news these days focuses on COVID 19 cases, the fight against inequality or President Trump’s reelection challenges, whether Joe Biden or Josh Bolton.  Truth be told, Washington, DC, is slowly trying to take care of other business.
There will be a “phase four” economic stimulus bill as talks accelerate, though no word on whether the price tag will be billions or trillions.  USDA said this week it’s mailed $2.9 billion in producer direct payments based on its $16 billion in CARES Act funding.  Lawmakers are trying to shoehorn several more pro-ag funding issues into the package, including retroactively giving biofuels makers a break.  Rep. Collin Peterson (D, MN), Agriculture Committee chair, last week told a virtual biofuels caucus session that much of what’s in the HEROES Act, approved by the House last month, will likely survive in the Senate’s next stimulus bill.  Financial aid to ethanol makers, as well as addressing frustration with EPA’s handling of small refinery waivers, including pending retroactive review of 52 waiver petitions, and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending mandate process are also likely to make the cut, Peterson said.  The lawmaker says he’s talked with his counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Pat Roberts (R, KS), and they’re pretty much of one mind on what should be included, though he expects Senate “tweaks.” Sen. Charles Grassley (R, IA), Finance Committee chair, says end-game talks will start post-July 4 break, with the bill hitting the floor around August 6, the last congressional workday until after Labor Day.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) checked with Americans on their attitude about farmer payments in the wake of the COVID 19 gyrations.  The June 6-7 poll found 52% of 2,200 adults surveyed support payments given farmers, with 53% saying farmers have been affected “ a lot” by COVID 19.  Another 32% said they’re “somewhat supportive” of sending federal checks to farmers, with 23% saying there’s been at least some impact on crop and livestock producers. Just 6% opposed federal aid to producers.  Broadly, 59% said the government should treat agriculture and a stable food supply as a “matter of national security.”
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision this week nullifying Trump’s shutdown of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by President Obama, does not eternally enshrine the program in federal law, but basically says the White House messed up in how it went about shutting it down.  Trump failed to follow the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and its requirements for public notice, public comments, etc.  No official word on whether the Trump administration will move to fix its mistakes and try again. The program is meant to protect nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation.  These “Dreamers” were brought illegally to the U.S. as minor children by their parents.
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