Last week, the Farm Bill failed to pass the House of Representatives by a vote of 195-234. Had it passed, we would have reduced government spending by $40 billion over ten years by improving farm programs and reforming nutrition assistance. You may be wondering, what happened? I think a good bill failed because it wasn't perfect. Most Democrats didn't support it because they felt that $20 billion was too much to cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)--or food stamps. On the other hand, some Republicans didn't think we cut enough. I think that view is short-sighted. The way the law stands, funding for food stamps will continue as-is, regardless of whether or not we pass a farm bill. So by voting against it, they voted against any reforms. They decided not to cut $20 billion from nutrition assistance, and to let spending continue to grow.
Meanwhile, American farmers and ranchers, who work hard to produce food for our table and clothes for our families, are now left wondering how to plan for next season. Will they be able to protect themselves against shallow losses by purchasing crop insurance? Frankly, at this moment, I don't have all of the answers, but I am going to keep working to ensure we get long-term farm policy in place as soon as possible.
Important Supreme Court Rulings Ahead
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a number of high-profile cases and we're expecting decisions over the next few weeks. Today, the Court issued an opinion on an affirmative action case involving the University of Texas (UT). Abigail Noel Fisher sued UT for discriminating against her application because of their effort to admit racially diverse students. The Court ruled that the lower Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals didn't appropriately evaluate the case, but decided against addressing the overall constitutionality of affirmative action.
There are three more cases that you'll want to monitor. Shelby County v. Holder deals with the Voting Rights Act. Texas is a Voting Rights Act state, which requires our state to seek federal approval before we can change voting laws. This requirement only applies to Southern states that at one time had instances of voting discrimination. I hope the Court strikes this down as unconstitutional. There are now protections in place to ensure that all states give all voters equal access. I don't believe that Texas should be subject to long, costly procedures that don't apply to other states.
The other two cases to watch both deal with same-sex marriage. Hollingsworth v. Perry will determine whether state initiatives that define marriage as a union between one man and one woman are constitutional. The United States v. Windsor will decide whether the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is constitutional. I strongly believe that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman, and the Court cannot and must not try to alter that basic truth.
If you want to follow breaking news on the Supreme Court decisions, http://www.scotusblog.com/ has daily updates and analysis.
What Legislation Would you Sponsor?
Randy's Roundup readers are engaged and up-to-date on the latest political developments. I know you have strong opinions on what's happening in Washington, and I'm glad you are always willing to share those thoughts. Here's another way to get involved and make your voice heard: www.cosponsor.gov allows you to become a Citizen Cosponsor of legislation that you support. You can log in through Facebook to support and track issues that matter to you. For instance, if you search for "ProLife Act" you'll have the opportunity to cosponsor or follow my bill to keep abortion providers out of public schools.
This week, I'll be voting on two energy bills that will help us develop and manage offshore energy production. H.R. 1613, the Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements Authorization Act, and H.R. 2231, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, will lower energy prices and create American jobs.