Montana Politics

Rehberg and the Farm Bill: Profiles in Inadequacy

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It would probably be asking a lot for Representative Rehberg to use his seniority and influence in the US House to get a Republican majority to pass a Farm Bill desperately needed in Ag country. After all, unless it’s naming a post office somewhere or defunding Medicare, Representative Rehberg has had little success getting any legislation passed during his decade in Congress.

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The Farm Bill is another kind of failure, though. It’s desperately needed here in Montana, as the Billings Gazette noted on September 2:

Those expiring programs are crucial to securing operating loans ahead of planting winter wheat this fall, say producers angered by House inaction on the 2012 farm bill. In addition, ranchers devastated by wildfire and drought are lobbying for assistance with burned-up pastures and skyrocketing feed costs.

This failure comes despite the fact that the Senate passed the Farm Bill in June—and the House finalized its work on the bill in August.

It’s so important that Representative Rehberg told KFBB-TV that “Congress needs to stay in session until its work is done.”

Well, the House didn’t heed Rehberg and left for a five-week paid vacation to campaign.

I’ll admit that I am confused by Mr. Rehberg’s promise to get a bill passed.  According to his online schedule, Rehberg has done nothing to push for the bill’s passage. Given the critical need for a bill, one would have imagined Rehberg would have scheduled a meeting with the House leadership and/or Speaker Boehner, but he’s done nothing of the sort.

With twelve years’ experience in the House and state that depends on Agriculture for its economy to represent, Mr. Rehberg has found time for rounds of golf and meeting with the Montana High School Principal of the Year, but not to force his colleagues to see this bill through. Writing a letter isn’t leadership, Mr. Rehberg.

And the bill is languishing in the House. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes, the bill is dead:

A version of the bill, which would reauthorize subsidies for growers of corn, cotton and other crops, has been approved by the Senate. The House Republican leadership did not schedule a vote before Congress recessed for the election, so no bill will pass before the current law expires Sept. 30.

The bill is dead. Republican leadership will not bring the bill to the floor—and Rehberg has done nothing to move it. Who’s going to suffer? It certainly won’t be subdivision ranchers on the Billings rims.

Who is to blame? Rehberg’s TEA Party allies in the House, who believe that crop insurance programs are somehow Stalinistic infringements on rights, not essential programs that maintain food security for the nation.

As Montana’s sole representative in the Congress, Representative Rehberg had an obligation to fight tooth and nail for Montana’s agricultural producers—but he’s let them down, perhaps in part, because he doesn’t understand how challenging farm life can be. Montana farmers aren’t sitting around, but their Representative certainly has been, at least when he isn’t out golfing with his buddies.

Montana farmers deserve better. Montanans deserve better.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

8 Comments

  • As to a profile in adequacy, look no further than the president: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57519443/for-obama-diplomacy-gets-back-seat-to-campaign/ Hard to fault Congress when the Leader has other priorities.

    (CBS News) UNITED NATIONS HEADQUATERS, New York – President Obama arrived in New York Monday afternoon for the United Nations General Assembly. One of the main topics of discussion at this annual meeting will be the recent unrest outside U.S. embassies in the Muslim world, including an attack in Benghazi, Libya, which claimed the lives of four Americans. But unlike years past, the president will not be sitting down with any of the more than 120 world leaders who are here in New York.

    Simply put, the White House is prioritizing the president’s reelection effort. Most heads of state will be here all week, but the president will be in New York less than 24 hours, and even then will spend most of his time away from this conference.

    After landing in New York Monday afternoon, the president headed straight for a sit-down — not with visiting leaders, but with the ladies of “The View,” for an interview to air tomorrow.

    Last year at the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama held 13 one-on-one meetings with major leaders.

    But this year diplomacy is taking a back seat to campaigning, despite a worsening civil war in Syria, rising tensions between Israel and Iran, and the recent attack in Libya.

    Now why isn’t Tester taking the podium to call the boss back to work?

      • Why are you always so off topic, Craig? Should Rehberg have used his seniority to help push through the Farm Bill or not? And using your own logic, we shouldn’t vote for Rehberg because he’s putting his campaign first and before Montana.
        Only difference is Obama doesn’t have a vote in Congress.

    • While your argument has its typical relevance, it lacks its customary tangential relationship to the topic at hand.

      As it turns out, Congress needs to pass a Farm Bill before the President can sign it. It’s hard to imagine a way you can possibly blame their failure to act on the President.

      Nice try, though.

  • Unlike the GOP-controlled house, and Mitt Romney, Obama can’t take a whole month off to campaign, so he has to try to do both things at the same time. The best part is, if he were going to the Assembly, you’d be attacking him for spending his time with foreign leaders instead addressing the American people on the issues we really care about.

  • The fact of the Matter is that Denny said nothing on the last day about the Farm Bill. His staffers wrote a memo a day later( Too cover his ASS). The man didn’t say anything on the floor to keep the house in session. and his last vote was to gut all EPA and safety laws regarding coal.

    According to the EPA, in 2010 the reductions in pollution from the Clean Air Act prevented:

    160,000 premature deaths;
    More than 80,000 emergency room visits;
    130,000 heart attacks
    13 million lost work days
    1.7 million asthma attacks

    Rehberg and his Republican counterparts don’t care if people die! They just want those donations from Coal companies to keep flowing into their Pockets.

    • I do wonder what happened to farmers as a group that made them so much more conservative, when at one time they were at the forefront of progressive politics in the USA.

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