Editorial credit: Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock.com USDA hq image number 475579099

Lawmakers aim to block USDA relocation funding

More than 30 lawmakers signed an Oct. 24 letter urging House and Senate appropriators to block funds to relocate two Department of Agriculture agencies out of Washington, D.C. to the Kansas City region.

The letter is the latest in a series of congressional efforts to thwart Trump administration plans to relocate the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) was the letter's original author, with Capitol region lawmakers including Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Donald Beyer (D-Va.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) , and senators from Maryland and Virginia joining in among other notables.

A House-passed funding bill prevents the USDA from using appropriated FY 2020 money on the relocation. However, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a bill that funds the moves.

An August 2019 report from the USDA's Inspector General found that the USDA had no sought Congressional approval to relocate the agencies as required by law.

"With only a fraction of employees opting to relocate, we are extremely concerned that moving forward with this relocation will increasingly jeopardize ERS and NIFA's ability to continue their critical work as well as cause irreparable harm to the federal scientific workforce," the letter stated. It also stated that as a result of the intended relocation, research agencies were being forced to delay or abandon publishing reports because they were losing employees so quickly. According to the letter, only 16 ERS employees and 45 NIFA employees have relocated. USDA is lettings its employees telework on a case-by-case basis until the end of the year.

The entire fiscal year 2020 appropriations process is up in the air, and another continuing resolution to fund the government after the current stopgap bill expires Nov. 21 seems increasingly likely.

Reader comments

Wed, Nov 13, 2019 Sam USA

Decades ago in the 1970's the US Postal Inspection spent a small fortune on training me for 6 months,salary plus meals,housing, transportation in Bethesda MD. I was later on the job for less than 2 years when they were going to involuntarily transfer me to a different region due to a manpower shortage in the other region and a system wide hiring freeze. Taking the transfer would result in my wife giving up her equally decent paying job and selling my home and pulling my children away from their friends. Needles to say I resigned rather than accept the relocation. That left the Inspection Service one more man short and one more new employee they would have to spend 6 moths training.. Losing experienced people due to involuntary transfers is Never a good idea.

Fri, Nov 1, 2019

Glad to read this news. The whole move was a crock in the first place! It was just to force people to quite. The political top management there hates its own staff. It is an ideology thing.

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