Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today signed a bipartisan discharge petition to bring H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act to the House Floor for a vote. After sending a letter to House leadership urging passage of the Farm Bill, this action constitutes the strongest effort available to a member of the House of Representatives to force action on pending legislation. It is just the latest example of Rehberg putting the interests of Montana head of partisanship.
"The Farm Bill is far too important for too many Montanans to let election year politics get in the way of doing the right thing," said Rehberg, a fifth-generation rancher from Montana. "While I know this is going to put a burr under the saddle of Republican leadership, I'm not here to fight for the party, I'm here to fight for Montana. Agriculture is our top industry, and the Farm Bill is a critical safety net that can't wait. Farmers are already facing the full return of the Death Tax, onerous regulatory expansion, drought and fires. They shouldn't have to worry about legislative gridlock as well."
Rehberg criss-crossed Montana's 56 counties in August, talking to countless farmers and ranchers who represent the state's top industry. And this week, in Washington, D.C., Rehberg met again with representatives from the Montana Farmers Union, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, Montana Pork Producers Council and the Montana Grain Growers Association. In every case the Farm Bill came up as a subject of urgency and importance.
In July, Rehberg sent a letter to House Leaders, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, urging action on the Farm Bill. In August, when the House passed disaster assistance legislation, he redoubled his calls for the House to pass a Farm Bill, urging them to delay the August recess until it was done. But no vote was scheduled.
The FARRM Act passed the House Agriculture Committee with a large bipartisan majority, 35-11. However, it has not been reported to the full House yet. A discharge petition is a way for a majority of House Members (218) to force a vote on a piece of legislation that is being held up in the House of Representatives, either by the relevant committee chairman or House leadership. It is effectively a legislative action forcing immediate consideration of the Farm Bill on the House floor.
"The Montana Grain Growers want to thank Denny for listening to Montanans and putting us ahead of party politics," said Lola Raska, Executive Vice President of the Montana Grain Growers Association. "It's absolutely essential that we get a Farm Bill done and in place to give our growers certainty. With Congress stuck in gridlock, the discharge petition is one of the few options we have left to get things moving. We appreciate Denny's leadership on this and commend him for sticking up for Montana."