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On December 12, 2018, Congress passed the 2018/19 Farm Bill (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018), which provides funding for farmer assistance programs and extends the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with no reductions to benefits. The law also makes it legal to grow hemp, a cannabis plant related to marijuana, which could open up a multibillion-dollar industry within the agriculture sector. Tribes, like states, may participate in hemp farming. The bill includes language to extend funding of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) for two years. The legislation allocates funding for rural development, education, and research programs. It also expands Tribes’ forestry and land management authority.
The University of Arkansas has created a useful bullet-pointed breakdown of the Farm Bill as it relates to Indian Country. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law this week.
Next month AIPI will be releasing a "115th Congress Report Card" highlighting the bills we tracked and which became law following conclusion of the 115th Congress. Stay tuned!
A partial federal government shutdown could become effective after Friday, December 7th. On September 28th Congress passed an appropriations bill to fund the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education through fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019). However, the FY 2019 appropriations bill only provided a continuing resolution for the Departments of Homeland Security, State, Commerce, Interior, and Justice through December 7, 2018. In the FY 2019 appropriations bill Democrats agreed to $1.6 billion in funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which included provisions for construction of a southern border wall. However, Republicans vowed to revisit funding for the southern border wall following the November 6th midterm elections. President Trump has previously requested $5 billion in southern border wall funding and has restated his position as the December 7th expiration for the FY 2019 continuing resolution draws near. According to Politico, Republican House leadership met with President Trump on Tuesday, November 27th to discuss possible funding options for a southern border wall, which primarily focused on providing $5 billion in funding over a two year period.
Another government shutdown was averted when Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the U.S. Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Act of 2019 on September 28, 2018. The $854 billion appropriation provides fiscal year 2019 funding for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and a continuing resolution to fund other federal agencies, such as the Departments of Homeland Security, State, Commerce, Interior, and Justice, through December 7, 2018. It is expected that funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall will remain a prominent request once the continuing resolution funding for the Department of Homeland Security expires on December 7th. Current proposed appropriations bills for the Department of Homeland Security would provide $1.6 billion in funding for activities, including building of fences, along the southern border. However, according to Roll Call, Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL-1) has introduced a bill that would use the Senate's Reconciliation Process to provide $25 billion in funding for the construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall.