Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Republican Leader Glenn "GT" Thompson Full Committee Business Meeting: "To consider a proposal to satisfy the Committee’s reconciliation instructions required by S. Con. Res. 14"

f t # e
Washington, September 10, 2021 | comments

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

It is with solemn regret I find myself before another partisan, unvetted, secretive process like the one conducted by this Committee in February.

Mr. Chairman, I took you at your word when you committed to strengthen this Committee’s reputation and return to our storied history of bipartisanship. I believed we had changed course when, through your leadership, we were able to unanimously pass bills that would shrink the digital divide and provide disaster relief to those in peril.

Unfortunately, here we are again, about to force through an incomplete bill written behind closed doors by Senator Stabenow and Speaker Pelosi, without a single meeting with our members to review its contents, much less a public hearing. We were given bill text less than 24 hours before this meeting, seconds before the general public.

Sadly, Members on both sides of the aisle are being jammed—we are debating an incomplete bill with unknown implications for every single person we each represent.

I ask each of my colleagues, are you comfortable with this process?

Do you understand what we are voting on? Do you know the topline number will almost certainly plummet, requiring significant cuts and changes to these proposals which will be left to the Rules Committee or worse, the Senate? We are missing nearly a third of this spending proposal, leaving the fate of the policies most important to rural America in the hands of a Majority who has advocated to offset the spending on the backs of family farms.

Mr. Chairman, during the first reconciliation, despite your opposition to any amendments, Republicans had an amendment pass with Democrat support addressing timely disaster needs. It was later stripped out by your leadership. I’m beginning to doubt the role of the Agriculture Committee under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi.

Whether one supports the broader reconciliation package or not, this Committee has been given an opportunity to move its priorities forward. It’s disappointing the few bipartisan and substantive issues we’ve worked to advance this Congress—broadband and WHIP +—aren’t in the bill before us today.

It’s rumored your leadership wants to play games with rural America by adding those provisions to a continuing resolution in an effort to force Republican Members to vote for legislation that may also raise the debt ceiling.

Are we here to do the people’s work and fight for rural America, or are we here to silently accept marching orders and succumb to partisan charades? Such a calculated ploy is outrageous, and I ask that you implore your leadership to not continue to hold rural America hostage with inside-the-beltway games.

Then, there’s the elephant in the room: tax provisions in the broader package that, while outside of our Committee’s jurisdiction, are at the heart of the communities, families, and industry we are here to champion.

If you travel the country like I do and hear from producers and farm families on the ground, they are terrified—as they should be. Hard-working men and women that feed, clothe, and power our nation and the world will be irreparably harmed if the President's ramped up death tax is allowed to become law.

American agriculture is in grave danger if this harmful, wrongheaded tax on farm families is enacted into law. 

I thank my Democratic colleagues on Committee, including you, Mr. Chairman, who have been vocal in opposition to these misguided provisions and their impact on farm families.  You are prudent to heed the growing call of frustration and fear from so many farmers and others who know how devastating this policy could be for their livelihoods.

To all our members, do you feel confident today, standing before your constituents and telling them the tax increases on farm families that many of you have opposed aren’t part of this broader package? 

I for one don’t and proceeding with today's markup with anything less than a guarantee from your leadership that these harmful tax proposals are indeed off the table is a de facto endorsement of them.

Republicans will be offering motions to move consideration of the bill until a date when we have the full story, including a complete bill and a promise that the President’s tax platitudes and policies are removed from this process.

Mr. Chairman, I remain hopeful you will reconsider this package and process through an open, transparent, amendment process. At the very least, I hope you will lend your support to various motions for reconsideration and join us in protecting the farmers, ranchers, and foresters who feed, clothe, and fuel this great nation.  
 
I yield back.

###

f t # e