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Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed--Resumed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the farm bill. Let me point out what the distinguished chairwoman and the distinguished Senator who has just spoken have already pointed out--and it bears repeating; I know it is somewhat repetitive if people have been paying attention to the remarks we have had here prior to this vote--but this is a reform bill at a time in which reforms are demanded. It saves $23.6 billion in mandatory spending. They are real cuts. They are real deficit savings. It accomplishes this by reforming, reducing, and streamlining programs.

We eliminate four commodity programs. These programs are very difficult to go through at the FSA office, the Farm Service Agency we have. So when farmers have come in to try to wade through the four commodity programs, they have always been terribly difficult and complex.

We streamline the 23 conservation programs into 13 and eliminate duplication. We tighten a major loophole in nutrition programs. We cut 16 rural development authorizations. We cut over 60 authorizations in the research title and streamline programs.

In whole, we cut and/or streamline over 100 programs. Show me another committee that has done that on a voluntary basis. There is not any in the House or the Senate.

We have had speech after speech after speech after speech--heartfelt speeches--why can't you work together back there in Washington and do what is right for the American people and quit spending money we do not have? We had a supercommittee that worked on this for a considerable amount of time. I do not question anybody's intent who had that tough job. At that time, we offered to the supercommittee a package that could have been done at that particular time. But we did it--``we'' meaning the chairwoman and myself and members of the committee, and staff as well, who worked extremely hard.

So there has not been anybody else who has come forward and said: Here is real deficit reduction. That is why we should support the motion to proceed. We have made the tough decisions because that is what you do in rural America--whether it is in Michigan, Kansas, the Dakotas, or Nebraska. Because that is what you do when budgets are tight and you need to get things done.

Those in rural America are also why we need to get this bill done. The current law expires September 30. How many things around here are in purgatory? Tax extenders, the tax bill, what we call the tax cliff that we are looking at over here if we do not get things done, the specter of a lameduck Congress--in 3 weeks trying to get things done like that. And you put folks in purgatory where they cannot make any decisions.

Well, it would be a disaster in rural America if we do not pass this law before we revert back to the permanent 1949 law. That law in no way reflects current production or domestic and international markets. And I would say, even if we extend the current law, it does not reflect what we need as of today. That law goes back to base acres of 25 years ago. We are talking about planted acres as of today. So basically it would be government-controlled agriculture on steroids, and it would also mean that virtually all programs in the current law would expire.

We cannot let that happen. We need certainty. Farmers need certainty. Ranchers need certainty. Bankers need certainty. Everybody up and down every Main Street in rural America needs certainty. Agribusiness needs certainty. We need it because our farmers and ranchers and their bankers need to know what the farm bill and the programs are going to look like.

In farming, you have to go to your banker every year to get an operating loan for the coming year. We raise winter wheat in Kansas. We are known for that. Kansas is known as the ``wheat State.'' It will be planted in September. That means farmers will be going to their bankers as early as late July--next month--or early August to get their operating notes for the coming year. Without certainty in the farm bill, it is more difficult to make any economic projection, and it is more difficult for farmers to obtain loans and for bankers and farm credit to provide that credit. That is why we need to get it done now in their behalf. Rural America needs to know the rules of the game.

Just as importantly, American taxpayers are demanding government reforms and reduced deficit spending. This bill delivers on both fronts. It is true reform.

Let's get this bill done. I urge my colleagues to vote for the motion to proceed.


Mr. Roberts has a choice--either uphold ObamaCare, or be portrayed a radical who wants to repeal the New Deal and a century of precedent.

Let's clear up a few things. First of all, as I said, the law was not passed by a strong majority of Congress, it was passed exclusively by Democrats. Not a single Republican supported it. It was the first time in history that major domestic legislation was passed by one party.

That is not the key point in terms of the constitutionality of the law, however. The key point is that the Court's job is, as Chief Justice Roberts said at his confirmation hearing, to work as an umpire, calling the balls and strikes as the Court sees them. Nonlegal arguments, such as the Court's decisions have to be popular or unanimous--those are just unserious and frankly political rhetoric.

We all know that in 1803, in the Marbury v. Madison case, the U.S. Supreme Court established the review of congressional action under article III of the Constitution. Since then, courts have overturned hundreds of laws. It would hardly be, therefore, unprecedented or extraordinary for the Court to overturn a congressional enactment as the President has said. As the Supreme Court noted in that case, courts determining whether acts of the legislative branch are consistent with the Constitution is ``of the very essence of judicial duty.'' The Court further noted that ``the Constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the legislature.'' If the two conflict, ``the Constitution and not such ordinary act must govern the case to which they both apply.''

The actual substance of the case which Democrats seem eager to avoid talking about is that ObamaCare, if upheld, empowers the Federal Government to order its citizens to purchase particular goods and services that the government believes its citizens must have. That sort of all-powerful Federal Government is at odds with the concept of enumerated powers, as is creating commerce in order to regulate it, as Justice Kennedy intimated at the oral argument.

This is why a significant majority of Americans dislike the law. They know the Constitution is meant to place limits on the power of our Government in order to protect the freedom of the people.

I can't guess how the Court is going to rule. It may not agree with my views. But I suggest that political leaders in the executive and legislative branches need to cool their rhetoric, as my colleague said, stop yelling at the umpire and stop the thinly veiled threats and react to the ruling after it is rendered, rather than before.


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