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Public Statements

Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 2419, Food and Energy Security Act of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise around this motion to instruct, which is centered on an objection that I have in the Senate-passed farm bill around one particular provision that certainly raises a lot of questions in my mind and should raise a lot of questions in the minds of my colleagues.

In the bill there is, without question, a $200 million earmark that benefits one wealthy landowner. Section 12808 in H.R. 2419, as passed by the Senate, provides for a tax credit bond program. There is a scheme in this bill that was so narrowly crafted that the bonds authorized thereunder can only be used for the acquisition of one, just one, piece of land in the entire country. This piece of land happens to lie predominantly in the State of Montana and is owned by timber giant Plum Creek. According to press reports, the Nature Conservancy would be allowed to issue $500 million in bonds under this bill and then use the proceeds to purchase the land from the timber giant. Even more egregious is that the provision does not even appear to require the protection of a single additional tree or a single additional fish. If this isn't a tax earmark, I don't know what is. Mr. Speaker, this is the ``bridge to nowhere'' of the farm bill.

Now, I know my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will argue that the Montana bond provision does not fit the definition of an earmark under House rules. Their reasoning will be that many taxpayers will potentially own the Montana bonds and then get tax credits from the Federal Government. But make no mistake. This provision is designed to facilitate one land sale by one landowner.

Now, Mr. Speaker, here's my question: What in the world are we doing here contemplating the expenditure of $200 million in U.S. taxpayer money to fund the purchase of a tract of land that benefits just one wealthy landowner, all the while American families are struggling with skyrocketing gas prices, food prices through the roof, plummeting home prices, and an economy that is barrel, barely growing?

It is time for us, Mr. Speaker, to say ``no'' to these types of backroom deals that have been struck in the middle of the night that benefit a wealthy few. It is time for us, Mr. Speaker, to say ``no'' to business as usual in Washington. And it's time, Mr. Speaker, for us to put the people first.

Think about it. Imagine what we could do with $200 million. It would go a long way to help solving the problems that so many people are facing across this country. This $200 million earmark is exactly what is wrong with Washington and why the American people are demanding change. It's time for all of us to insist that the Federal Government start working for the people again.

Mr. Speaker, my motion is a very simple one. It asks that the House instruct its conferees on the farm bill to reject section 12808 of the Senate-passed bill.


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