Economy & Budget

It should not be this difficult

In less than two weeks, the ninth extension of the transportation reauthorization bill will expire, making it necessary to pass another short-term measure. House and Senate conferees are working to resolve their differences but it’s unlikely that a compromise will be ready for floor action any time soon.

It shouldn’t be this difficult to pass a bill that everyone agrees will create jobs. But nothing in Washington is easy these days. So what seems to be the problem? Some Members are insisting that language directing the Administration to take action on the Keystone XL pipeline must be included – even though it doesn’t really belong in a transportation bill. Others are insisting on limiting funding for the bill and on limiting its scope to a year or two. Previous transportation bills have provided enough funding and covered multiple years, giving states and municipalities some long-term certainty when it comes to planning projects.


Pass the Federal Hen Protection Bill

Most Americans care about animals—two-thirds support “strict laws for the protection of farm animals,” according to Gallup. And yet there is no federal protection for animals on farms and no protection for more than 98 percent of farm animals at slaughter—because the Animal Welfare Act exempts farm animals and the Humane Slaughter Act exempts birds.


2012 Farm Bill: Impacting Americans from all walks of life

Agriculture has remained a bright spot in our economy, even throughout the recent downturn. Farm income has grown in the last couple of years and exports are now at record levels. This has boosted job growth within the industry and allowed U.S. agriculture to continue to support hundreds of thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly. In my state of Wisconsin, the dairy and timber sectors are significant economic engines, but the fruit and vegetable farms that dot my District are equally important. They provide jobs and constitute the livelihoods of many families throughout my District and Wisconsin, and I will make sure that they too have a voice in the outcome of the 2012 Farm Bill.


Americans need real recovery and real leadership

Like many others, I disagree with the president’s assertion that the “private sector is doing fine.”
And I’m certain the more than 23 million Americans who remain unemployed or underemployed also disagree.
I’ve long said private sector job creation should be the number one domestic priority today.
In President Barack Obama’s view, we just need more government jobs.


Farm Bill's catfish inspection program is a fishy proposition

As the U.S. Senate takes up the 2012 Farm Bill, prepare for another vigorous debate: is the Farm Bill needed to support a vital sector of our economy, or is it a government giveaway that benefits corporations and the well-connected at the expense of the rest of us?  

A closer look at one component of the last Farm Bill—the catfish inspection program—suggests the latter. And that’s bad news for the future of farm policy.


What sin has JP Morgan committed other than being big enough to lose billions?

On May 10, JP Morgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon announced a $2 billion loss in the firm’s Chief Investment Office trading portfolio. Since the disclosure, we have heard of investigations by the SEC, the FBI, and DOJ, among others. Dimon appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on June 13 in submission to the committee’s oversight purview, and he will be doing the same today (June 19) before my committee, the House Financial Services Committee.


Will the House block the Farm Bill pig-out?

Pundits claim that partisanship is creating gridlock in Washington. But in the Senate, the two parties still know how to make bipartisan deals on big government subsidy legislation. That chamber may move ahead with a massive agriculture bill that would spend almost $1 trillion over the next decade. Supporters are calling it a “reform” bill because it would trim a measly two percent from projected spending over the period.


Now is not the time to cut feeding programs

The Farm Bill touches the lives of every American. From the hundreds of thousands of farmers who grow our fruits and vegetables and raise our livestock to the millions of hungry Americans who depend on federal feeding programs, no one can deny the importance of this legislation. The Farm Bill protects our farmers from catastrophic weather, providing a safety-net for small family farms. It protects consumers from volatile and unpredictable food prices. Considering its significant impact for so many Americans, Congress must come together to reauthorize the Farm Bill this year. 


A Farm Bill we can be proud of

If you ate breakfast this morning, then you’ve already been touched today by the policies and programs currently under debate as part of the 2012 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is a lot more than subsidy formulas and sustainability initiatives: It is the crucial underpinning of the cost and availability of the food you and I eat every day.


Let the H-2B guestworker program do what it's supposed to

Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee is likely to vote on amendments to the 2013 Appropriations bill that could undercut crucial reforms to the H-2B guestworker program.
The H-2B program allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers for seasonal jobs when American workers aren’t available. At any given time, there are about 115,000 such workers employed in the U.S., in industries like construction, retail, hospitality, janitorial, landscaping, seafood processing and forestry.