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Column: Congress Undone


Location: Unknown

It is both frustrating and disappointing how Congress has adjourned weeks before the election with so much major legislation left undone. There was once a time before partisan gridlock froze the wheels of Congress, when both sides actually worked together to iron out differences and put the people ahead of politics. Sadly, those days seem to be gone.

Over the past few weeks, I've written about some of the major bills that should have been passed this Congress, including one to protect cyberspace and another to help veterans returning from war find jobs. Perhaps the most frustrating of all was the House's refusal to take up the 2012 Farm Bill, commonsense legislation that actually cut spending on farm programs while providing a safety net for ag producers so America can continue producing its own food.

What Americans Need to Know

Nebraskans aren't being told the local consequences of not having a Farm Bill.
They don't know that without a Farm Bill, almost 40 programs will lose their financing, and that if the current law is allowed to expire, the Farm Bill defaults to the 1949 law.

They don't know that the conservation, rural development, and support for farm commodity programs won't be renewed.

They don't know that the disaster programs to assist livestock producers impacted by the drought are gone, too.

Washington "Noise" Media

There's been a lot of noise in Washington about the messy politics behind the Farm Bill, but Americans aren't being told about the local consequences of leaving the Farm Bill undone.

We can't rely on the national news media and talk shows to tell us about the consequences. They concentrate on the political noise and not the important details of legislation so it's up to state, local and regional media to do it.
I wholeheartedly support reigning-in out-of-control government spending and cutting waste, fraud and abuse, but I will not support reckless and counterproductive cuts made to programs that serve a vital local and national interest.

These programs include a new U.S. Strategic Command Headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, modernizing the aging Omaha VA Medical Center that serves over 150 thousand veterans, and a new national military cemetery that will serve as a final resting place for those who gave their all to our country. Also, I won't support wild cuts to local education or slashing repair funds for roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

These vital programs and many others don't have a lot of media advocacy, and the services they provide aren't often highlighted in the national noise media.
A Whole Congress of Noise Makers?

I wonder what America… what Nebraska… will do if we have a whole Congress of noisemakers who make news about their political fights, but not about the community impact of what they're fighting for.

My hope is that Nebraskans will take time to become more informed about legislation left undone and communicate their opinions to those who represent them in Washington. When people understand the local consequences of the Washington noise, they're going to cast informed votes, which are the best kind.

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