House Leaders Punt on Farm Bill

Aug 14, 2012

House Leaders Punt on Farm Bill

Every five years, Congress is supposed to review our nation’s agriculture policies and pass a long-term update to farm programs.  Billions of taxpayer dollars and the very shape of U.S. food policy depend on it.  The current farm programs are set to expire at the end of September, a situation made all the more urgent due to the widespread drought gripping most of the country.  

The Senate passed a bipartisan long-term Farm Bill back in June, but the House Republican Leadership has been unwilling to bring its own Agriculture Committee’s version of the legislation to the House Floor for a vote.  A recent effort by the House Leadership to bring up a much more modest one-year extension of current farm programs also fell apart, and House Members were sent home to their districts for a 5-week recess.

July Was the Hottest Month on Record

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) just reported that July 2012 was the hottest month for the contiguous United States since recordkeeping began over 100 years ago.  NOAA also reported that the last 12 months have been the warmest on record.  Drought now covers nearly 63 percent of the Lower 48.

In a related matter, the Director of the NASA Goddard Flight Center, Dr. James Hansen, recently wrote in the Washington Post about a new analysis that links some of the extreme weather events of recent years to planetary warming caused by greenhouse gases. 

Economy Added 163,000 Jobs Last Month

The U.S. economy added a better-than-expected 163,000 jobs in July, according to the monthly report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Over the last two years, the private sector has created nearly four million jobs.  Commenting on the July job numbers, Rep. Levin said the federal government must do much more, and also avoid irresponsible policies that threaten the nation’s credit, block efforts to create jobs, and raise taxes on working families while continuing tax breaks for the very wealthy.

Lawmakers Call for Free Elections in Ukraine

As Co-Chair of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, Rep. Levin is concerned with strengthening U.S.-Ukrainian ties and advocating for democratic reforms and a free market-based economy in Ukraine.  Rep. Levin recently joined other Caucus members in sponsoring a resolution [H.Res. 730] that promotes human rights and democracy in Ukraine and responds to the selective prosecution of opposition political leaders by the current Ukrainian government. 

House Reprimands California Lawmaker

On August 2, the House voted unanimously to reprimand Representative Laura Richardson of California.  Following a lengthy investigation, the bipartisan House Ethic’s Committee concluded that there was substantial reason to believe that Rep. Richardson had broken federal law and House rules by, among other charges, compelling her official staff to perform campaign work. Along with publicly reprimanding Rep. Richardson, the House also fined her $10,000.