Coleman effectively serves farmers of Minnesota, nation

The article concerning Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and the farm bill was narrow and disappointing (“The farm bill isn’t so sweet for Coleman,” Nov. 20).

One would hope a news story about Sen. Coleman’s involvement in the farm bill and his standing with Minnesota farmers would include comments from people in a position to know about either concern. Yet, the authors never bothered to seek comment from me or a single farmer from Sen. Coleman’s home state. Further, the one Minnesota farm group the writers did speak with contradicted the entire premise of the story.

As ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, I have worked closely with Sen. Coleman and his staff over the past year to craft farm policy that benefits all Americans, including Minnesota farm families. Sen. Coleman understands the issues producers in his state face and I greatly respect his knowledge of northern commodities, including sugar, and the renewable fuels industry.

I could list the litany of Sen. Coleman’s achievements on behalf of Minnesota farm families over the last five years, but frankly, the people to whom these achievements matter most already know about them. However, I will point out something that should be obvious by now to anyone: It takes a bipartisan effort to get the job done in the Senate. Sen. Coleman has worked with members on both sides of the aisle to best represent Minnesota farmers in the Senate’s farm bill debate. …

I have witnessed firsthand Sen. Coleman’s dedication to farm families and rural communities when I have visited with Minnesota producers, both in Washington and in the North Star State. Too often agriculture policy becomes a political hostage, but the farmers of Minnesota should be assured that they sent the right person to represent them in the U.S. Senate.

Washington




Allow EEOC probes of language bias

In his Nov. 20 column “Immigration hogtying Dems,” David Keene argues that stripping the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of its ability to investigate language discrimination is in the interest of national unity.

This argument is a red herring at best and disingenuous at worst.

I applaud the leadership of both Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee, for blocking language that would defang the EEOC. As a member of this subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the underlying bill, I stridently advocated removing Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) language because subjecting immigrant communities to the mercy of discriminatory forces only fosters deeper divisions and threatens national unity.

Mr. Keene ignores the fact that other languages have played a substantial role in American life, and unity has not suffered as a result. Whether it was New York Italians, or Germans in Hoboken, N.J., their languages were more common in their enclaves than English, but after a couple of generations they all became part of the American fabric, without coercion.

Contrary to what Mr. Keene claims, diversity is in our national interest. Most of our foreign debacles, such as the current Iraq quagmire, might have been avoided if we better understood the world around us and consequently made better choices.

Like Mr. Keene and Sen. Alexander, I support programs that help immigrants integrate, such as English classes for both immigrant adults and their children. These efforts are a positive and proactive way to foster unity. Unfortunately, funding for those programs was recently vetoed by President Bush and I missed the outcry from the right about how this set back the integration of millions.

Instead of inviting immigrants into mainstream American culture, the strategy of many in the right for integration is simply to expose them to discrimination, which is alive and kicking. Hogtying the EEOC would do just that.

Washington