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Mr. RUBIO. Madam President, yesterday, I voted against passage of S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013, which is commonly known as the farm bill. With an overall cost of nearly $1 trillion, this legislation is more than we can afford at a time when our debt of nearly $17 trillion is growing rapidly each day. While I support some of the programs in this bill that are important to Florida and our State's important role in America's food supply, we cannot allow Washington to continue spending recklessly and condemning our children and grandchildren to a diminished future.
Not only was I concerned about the cost of this legislation, but I am disappointed that ample opportunity was not provided to Senators to improve it through a more open amendment process. When the farm bill was considered last year, the Senate voted on over 70 amendments to the bill, including my RAISE Act amendment, which would have allowed workers to earn more money for a job well done without having to first clear it by union bosses. This open process was not the case this time around and prevented my colleagues and I from introducing measures to improve the bill, as well as timely measures such as my proposal to punish Internal Revenue Service employees who violate the First Amendment rights of our citizens.
I remain committed to championing sound policy important to the farmers and working families that contribute to the agriculture industry's success and whose products ultimately end up at our dinner tables. It is why I am pursuing reforms in other areas that would benefit our farmers and our Nation. For example, I continue working towards national immigration reform, which would help create a guest worker visa program to ensure an adequate agriculture workforce. This reform would achieve an agricultural workers program that allows us to bring in both temporary and long-term laborers to provide our farms, dairies and other agricultural industries with the workers they need and in a way that also protects the dignity and safety of those workers.
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