AFBF’s Mary Kay Thatcher Says It’s Crunch Time for Congress to Take Up "Unfinished Business"Mon, 11 Jan 2016 18:24:52 CST
Progress on key agricultural policy issues will grind to halt later on this year on Capitol Hill. That’s according to American Farm Bureau Senior Director of Congressional Relations Mary Kay Thatcher. In an interview with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 97th Annual Convention, she talked about the challenges with it being an election year. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the full interview.
“Every election year is tougher to get things done than a nonelection year and when you figure this is a presidential election year and both the Republican and Democratic conventions have been pushed up a month - I mean now you’re looking at really having until about June to get everything you need to get done, done,” Thatcher said. “So, with all the budget issues out ongoing, it’s pretty doubtful we’ll get much major legislation passed.”
The U.S. House may take up a resolution of disapproval of the “Waters of the United States” rule this week. The measure passed the Senate in November by a vote of 53-44. Thatcher thinks there is good chance it will pass, but not by a veto proof margin. The President has been pretty adamant that he will veto the measure. While there is a nationwide stay on the WOTUS rule right now, she said that could change at almost any time.
“You know, we don’t have the magic bullet right now,” Thatcher said. “We are still looking for every opportunity to find ways to continue to do it, but it sure doesn’t look like we are going to make any progress with this administration on this issue until they are out of office.”
American Farm Bureau will continue to push Congress to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement as soon as possible. Thatcher said they are concerned because the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch have said they aren’t sure if this is the year to take up TPP. She said there are a lot congressional leaders that are pro trade, but they don’t want to give this President a “win”. Thatcher said getting TPP passed will be an uphill battle in convincing the right people in Congress to move on the trade agreement. She said it won’t be a good idea to leave the trade agreement hanging for another year.
Labeling of genetically modified foods will be another hot topic this year. Thatcher said something has to be done with GMO labeling with a number of states talking about it and considering state labeling requirements. That will lead to a patchwork of regulations across the country. She also looks for Congress to work on child nutrition and reauthorization of the Commodities Future Trading Commission. American Farm Bureau will also continue to push for immigration and Endangered Species Act reform this year.
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