Randy's Roundup: Farm Bill, State of the Union, and Ending Taxpayer Funding for Abortion

Jan 28, 2014 Issues: Agriculture, Government Accountability, Family Values, Fiscal Responsibility

Farm Bill Finalized

We’re nearing the finish line on the Farm Bill, which is good news for consumers and producers.  The Conference Committee report was just finalized.  We’re hoping to bring it to the House floor for a vote  on Wednesday.  This has been a long process that began two years ago with detailed examinations of every single farm program.  We’ve held dozens of hearings and we’ve gone through a few different versions of this bill.  We’ve worked to reform farm programs to make them more market-based, and to bring accountability and transparency to nutrition programs.  

I’ll be honest with you—this bill isn’t perfect.  I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to close more loopholes on nutrition assistance so that you could be sure your taxes were only supporting families in need.  I had hoped we’d get the government out of the business of marketing products by ending the trade-distorting Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program.  But we’ll continue to work on these issues in appropriations legislation.  

All told, this is a good bill that saves taxpayer dollars through free-market reforms.  

The Farm Bill will reduce our deficit by $24 billion over ten years. We’ve closed loopholes in the nutrition programs to save $8 billion.  We’re also implementing a pilot program that will help get able-bodied adults off food stamps and back to work.  Instead of sending out direct payments, which aren’t tied to a farmer’s current production, the conference committee strengthened crop insurance, which requires farmers to pay a premium and only pays out in the event of a loss.  I’m also proud that my market-based Shallow Loss Coverage Option (SCO) was included in the final report.  This group insurance program helps farmers manage smaller losses—bad seasons that wouldn’t necessarily trigger an individual crop insurance policy, but over time could put a farmer out of business.    

These are all very positive reforms, and if we want to see them implemented, we need to pass this through the House and Senate.

I’m encouraging my colleagues to vote for this bill, which will give our farmers and ranchers certainty while they work to feed and clothe America. 

State of the Union

Tomorrow night, President Obama will make his annual visit to Congress to address the nation about the state of our union and his agenda for 2014.  We already have an idea of what will be in his remarks.  He’s made it clear that he intends to side-step Congress with executive orders, saying that he has a pen and a phone and he doesn’t need Congressional cooperation to push his agenda.  That disregard for our checks and balances is unacceptable, and I’m working to ensure that the President doesn’t abuse executive powers.

So what will the President discuss? I think we’ll hear a lot of the same themes we’ve heard in previous years. In his speech, he’ll probably focus on his priority to grow government. The President sees government expansion as a “solution” to our problems.  I would rather hear ideas to make the government more accountable to the American people.  You deserve transparency and results—not more failed government programs.  

The President is going to defend Obamacare.  Americans are tired of broken promises and don’t want another sales-pitch—they want real solutions for people that are losing their coverage or being hit with higher costs. 

I’m hoping that the President will make jobs and economic growth a priority.  But Americans recognize that his rhetoric on jobs is an empty promise if he won’t take action on any of the House-passed jobs bills.  

I’m interested in your take on the State of the Union.  This week’s question asks you to rate the current status of our country—I’m looking forward to your responses.  

Action Item: Ending Taxpayer Funding for Abortion

Tomorrow I will vote to permanently end taxpayer funding for abortion.  As an original cosponsor of H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, I’m proud that we’ll take action to prohibit the government from using your tax dollars to fund the tragic practice of abortion.  Right now, there is a patchwork of bills and amendments that prohibit federal funding for abortions. H.R. 7 unifies that policy under a single bill.  It’s important that we do this, because the majority of Americans oppose abortion, and we don’t want our tax dollars paying to end innocent lives.  This bill would also clarify which plans on the Obamacare exchanges require its enrollees to subsidize others’ abortions on demand.  I’m working in Washington to eliminate abortion from our society altogether, and tomorrow my colleagues and I will take an important step in the right direction.