The US House of Representatives voted to approve a $125.5 billion agriculture spending bill. The bill includes controversial provisions to halt millions of dollars of payments to Brazil and bar the US government from investing in new ethanol blender pumps.
The Obama administration has sharply criticized the bill for underfunding efforts to beef up food safety initiatives and complained that it doesn't contain enough funds for the government to implement the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
The bill contains a budget of $172 million for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the 12-month period beginning Oct. 1, substantially less than the $308 million sought by President Barack Obama, and also less than the agency's current budget of $202 million.
Rep. Scott Garrett (R., N.J.) added an amendment that would require regulators to delay certain new requirements for the over-the-counter derivatives trades for at least 12 months, while they collect data on those markets.
Brazil trade war
House members also approved an amendment to the bill that halts US payments to Brazil as part of a complex scheme that keeps Brazil from placing heavy duties on US exports there.
The US government is now paying Brazil $12.275 million per month. Brazil won the right to impose the tariffs on US goods during a World Trade Organization battle.
Opponents of the amendment argued that cutting off the payments could start a trade war with Brazil.
Another amendment approved as part of the spending bill prohibits the US Department of Agriculture from funding the installation of new gas station pumps that can dispense fuel with higher ethanol content.
The USDA is set to soon begin offering grants and loan guarantees for the installation of costly new "blender pumps" so drivers can purchase fuel with a higher ratio of corn-based ethanol.
Most gasoline sold in the US is 10% ethanol, but a growing fleet of flexible-fuel vehicles can run on an 85%-ethanol blend, or E85.
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