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.
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.