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Public Statements

Do-Nothing Congress

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. COSTA. I thank the gentleman from Maryland for yielding, because we ought to be about doing the people's business. Walking away as we are for the next 46 days to focus on elections when we ought to be focusing on the people's business is a very sad commentary, a very sad commentary to the people of our land.

I appreciate all the good work that my colleague Congressman Hoyer and my other colleagues do in trying to address the critical challenges that we face in our Nation today. As was stated, our House Republican colleagues have left town to focus on the election. In the meantime we have unfinished business. We have unfinished business on comprehensive jobs, big and balanced budget solutions to the deficit, tax cuts for the middle class, the farm bill--which I want to speak to--and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, as a cochair of the Victims' Rights Caucus, is especially disheartening.

Let me say that the folks who farm and put the food on America's dinner table are wondering why, just why, we can't get a farm bill. It is one of the most bipartisan things we ever do here in Congress.

In 2008 we had a bipartisan farm bill when we had the majority. President Bush vetoed it, we overrode his veto twice. Today we have a farm bill that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate by a vote of 64-35. It made cuts because we have to make cuts, and we have to be fiscally responsible, $23.5 billion less than the farm bill of 2008.

In the House, as a Member of the House Agriculture Committee, we voted a comprehensive bill out, 35-11. We made cuts because we have to make cuts. In a number of the areas we made similar cuts to the Senate's, $20 billion in farm programs. We made additional cuts in nutritional programs, which are part of what would normally be worked out if regular order was allowed to take place.

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Mr. COSTA. The gentleman is correct. We had over 70 farm organizations from the American Farm Bureau, the National Farmers Union to the, as we say, the ``barnyard coalition'' that represents all of the poultry and pork and
dairy and beef cattle industries, because they understand that a farm bill is a safety net. Without it, we don't have a farm policy, we don't have a food policy for not just American farmers, ranchers, and dairymen but for the consumers who, each night, enjoy the highest-quality food produced with the safest quality anywhere in the world.

Let me just close by saying two things. The dairy industry is hurting. We have had a drought in the Midwest that has devastated a whole host of the farm country. And yet, what is one of the ways that farmers, ranchers, and dairymen are able to produce next year's crops? Well, they get loans. They get loans from banks and production credit associations.

What are those loans made of? They are based upon the value of their farm and how much they were leveraged, but they are also based upon a farm bill, a farm bill that provides the ability to ensure that there is a safety net and that there is crop insurance. Without any farm bill, we don't have any crop insurance. Without a farm bill, we don't have that safety net.

With the overwhelming bipartisan support that we have in the Senate, the bipartisan bill that was voted out of the House Agriculture Committee, it seems to me that we ought to let the process work. I would urge my colleagues to come back. Come back and let's do the people's business on all of these issues. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. The Victims' Rights Caucus every day is focusing on protecting women and their families throughout this country, and that is also a bipartisan piece of legislation that we always act on. Again we're not doing the people's business.

The gentleman from Maryland, my colleague, is so correct in bringing this to the attention of the House. Ladies and gentlemen, we ought to be about doing the people's business.

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