But last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that directly contradicts – and makes impossible – those attempts. The new $145 billion funding bill for the USDA and FDA fights back against Trump and USDA secretary Perdue.
In May, Perdue issued a terse announcement that he was eliminating the position of Undersecretary for Rural Development. Rural Development is an agency within the USDA, a near-$100-billion agency tasked with improving the quality of life in rural America. It’s the chief group within the government that ensures rural America is not ignored; projects include business loans, waste treatment, water quality assurances, housing, and connectivity.
Perdue insisted when he eliminated the undersecretary position that members of the agency would report directly to him, but a wide swath of people (including farmers, governmental officials, and non-profits) saw it as part of a wider attempt to cut funding and aid to rural America. Without an undersecretary, Rural Development would no longer be a part of many top-level meetings within the USDA, and without official representatives, it it could prove much more difficult to direct attention to where it’s needed.
The new appropriations bill instructs Perdue to abandon his attempt to eliminate that job position, forcing him to appoint someone, and gives the Rural Development agency nearly $900,000 for salaries and expenses, according to Agriculture (the same as the 2017 financial year). It’s notable that the bill provides $4.85 billion more than Trump requested, and also includes $73.612 billion for SNAP benefits (aka food stamps, which Trump has been eager to cut) and$24.243 billion for for child nutrition programs, which includes school lunch assistance.
The bill, which was composed by Committee members from both parties and approved 31-0, will head to the full Senate for a vote shortly.