agriculture

Mitch McConnell Touting Victory With Hemp Legalization on Farm Bill
Issue is becoming an early plank of the Kentucky Republican’s 2020 re-election bid

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been promoting industrial hemp language in the farm bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to put himself on the farm bill conference committee was insurance that one of his policy priorities — and a key issue for his 2020 re-election campaign — would make it to President Donald Trump’s desk this year.

“At a time when farm income is down and growers are struggling, industrial hemp is a bright spot of agriculture’s future,” McConnell said Tuesday morning. “My provision in the farm bill will not only legalize domestic hemp, but it will also allow state departments of agriculture to be responsible for its oversight.”

Markets Tumble Again But White House Not Guaranteeing China Deal
‘We'll see,’ President Trump's top economic adviser says of tricky talks

The flags of China and the United States are displayed in front of the portrait of China’s late communist leader, Mao Zedong, outside the Forbidden City on Nov. 9, 2017 in Beijing, before President Trump’s state visit. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images file photo)

U.S. markets plunged again Thursday amid doubts the Trump administration and China can strike a legitimate trade deal that would avoid an escalation of tensions and economic turbulence as the White House urges patience — and few guarantees of success.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ and S&P 500 Index all were closed Wednesday as part of a national day of mourning for the late President George H.W. Bush following a Tuesday sell off. But the one-day break did little to calm spooked markets.

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy Doubts Trump’s Optimistic Claims on China Trade Talks
Democratic lawmaker just isn’t buying president’s contention of a big win

President Donald Trump greets the press as the president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, shows the way to a meeting during a G-20 summit last week. (Ricardo Ceppi/Getty Images file photo)

Hours after threatening “major tariffs” on Chinese goods unless a new trade deal is reached, President Trump on Wednesday claimed his administration is hearing “very strong signals being sent by China.”

But one Democratic senator, Connecticut’s Christopher S. Murphy, isn’t buying it.

Final Farm Bill Would Make Hemp Legal, Other Details Revealed
Lying in state of George H.W. Bush disrupts bill release schedule

Corn grows on a farm on July 13, 2018 near Amana, Iowa. Farmers in Iowa and the rest of the country, who are already faced with decade-low profits, are bracing for the impact a trade war with China may have on their bottom line going forward. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

The top House Agriculture Democrat says a final farm bill agreement rejects controversial House provisions to tie food stamp benefits to expanded work requirements, greenlights hemp cultivation and tweaks programs important to farmers and ranchers.

The death of former President George H.W. Bush and his lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda disrupted congressional schedules this week, including the release of a final farm bill. Lawmakers have spent weeks negotiating to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the legislation.  

House Cancels Votes, Senate Postpones for Bush Ceremonies
Send-off for former president scrambles calendar and changes calculation of shutdown politics

Workers set up the Capitol Rotunda on Monday for the body of former President George H.W. Bush to lie in state. The House and Senate have both altered legislative schedules to honor Bush, who died Friday at age 94.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House has canceled all votes for the week and the Senate has postponed votes until after the Wednesday funeral of former President George H.W. Bush.

House lawmakers were scheduled to vote on 14 bills under suspension of the rules this week, in addition to the farm bill conference report and a fiscal 2019 spending package. Current funding for nine Cabinet departments and dozens of smaller agencies will run dry on Dec. 7.

Trump, China’s Xi Agree to End Trade and Tariff Standoff
Lawmakers have been split on how tough Trump should be on Beijing

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at the Capitol in September 2015. He and President Trump agreed to a trade cease-fire Saturday after months of tensions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday agreed to what amounts to a cease-fire on a monthslong trade tiff.

“President Trump has agreed that on January 1, 2019, he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of product at the 10 percent rate, and not raise it to 25 percent at this time,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Trump Gets Needed Win With Trade Pact, But Fight With Congress Looms
‘I don’t expect to have much of a problem,’ president says alongside Mexican and Canadian leaders

President Donald Trump greets the media as Argentine President Mauricio Macri shows the way to their meeting before the G20 Leaders’ Summit on Friday in Buenos Aires. (Ricardo Ceppi/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump notched a needed political win Friday when he and his Canadian and Mexican counterparts signed a new trade pact, and he predicted Congress would approve the North American Free Trade Agreement-replacing deal.

Trump, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat at a table in Buenos Aires on the sidelines of a G-20 summit in the Argentine capital and each signed three copies — one for each country — of the agreement. On his last day in office, Pena Nieto joined Trump in holding up a copy showing all three signatures. Notably, however Trudeau did not, leaving the version he signed closed on the table.

On Chaotic Wednesday, Senators Hunt for an Endgame
Yemen resolution, contentious nominees complicate escape plans

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., arrives Wednesday for a briefing for all senators with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Wednesday was not a typical day in the Senate.

On an average Senate day, the visceral, negative response from senators to a closed briefing on U.S. policy on Saudi Arabia might have dominated headlines.

White House Presses China’s Xi Before Trade Talks With Trump
Leaders will break bread amid impasse, tensions Saturday night at G20 summit

U.S. and Chinese flags on a table during a meeting of military leaders in 2014. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi will meet on Saturday night in Argentina. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Mikki L. Sprenkle/Released)

The White House wants to pressure Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of a high-stakes dinner with President Donald Trump during which the two leaders will attempt to make some progress on long-stalled trade talks.

Lawrence Kudlow, Trump’s chief economic adviser, dismissed Wall Street talk of a coming recession at home. In fact, he said Trump administration officials view the state of the American economy as a major leverage point going into the Saturday Trump-Xi meeting.

Forest Fires Add Snag to Getting Farm Bill Passed
House-passed version would change forest management policies that opponents say would ease oversight

A Cal Fire firefighter monitors a burning home as the Camp Fire moves through earlier this month in Magalia, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

Forestry provisions have emerged as the latest snag in farm bill negotiations, sending the issue to congressional leaders for talks to break the impasse.

The forestry provisions in the House-passed version of the farm bill say the proposed changes to federal forest management policies would prevent forest fires — an issue that is now at the forefront after the deadly California fires. Opponents say the proposed changes would ease federal oversight and safeguards needed to limit logging on public lands that could destroy forests habitats and reduce protections for endangered wildlife.