The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund all federal programs through Sept. 30, including $55 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).
The Senate approved the funding bill on Wednesday with an amendment sponsored by Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) that added the money for FSIS inspectors. The amendment would move $55 million over to FSIS from a USDA fund used for grants to fund new cafeteria equipment at schools, as well as not increasing funds for USDA's building and facilities account in order to ensure food inspectors are not furloughed.
Without inspectors, packing plants cannot process meat. USDA estimated the furloughs would have resulted in lost production of more than 2 billion pounds of meat, 2.8 billion to 3.3 billion pounds of poultry and more than 200 million pounds of egg products at a cost of as much as $11 billion.
The bill now goes to the White House to be signed. The CR will go into effect when the current measure runs out on March 27.