Panetta endorses BBB at House Rules while Thompson opposes it
Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., a member of the House Agriculture Committee, testified before the House Rules Committee Thursday, telling the committee that the agriculture provisions in the Build Back Better Act represent “an historic opportunity.”
But Agriculture Committee ranking member Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., told the committee that the process of developing the bill had been partisan, and that the provisions would hurt rural America because taxes would go up.
In his testimony, Panetta said, “These provisions represent a historic opportunity to focus federal investments in climate change mitigation, rural communities, forest conservation and restoration, debt relief, and agricultural research and education.”
“This package makes tremendous investments in our conservation and forestry programs to help our farmers, ranchers and private forestland owners carry out climate smart conservation practices.
“All of our farm bill conservation programs are oversubscribed and have backlogs.
“Producers who want to help sequester carbon or reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be able to carry out those practices with the funding provided in this bill.
“The devastation that my colleagues and I from the West have witnessed in their districts over the last several wildfire years is heartbreaking as entire communities have burned to the ground.
“The funding for forestry programs will work to reduce the hazardous fuel load on our National Forest System lands and provide funds for forest resilience.
“This investment in forestry programs also looks to ensure our private forestland owners are able to take steps to address climate change and bolster forest communities and even urban tree canopies.
“We are putting money towards programs and funding lines that Republicans and Democrats have supported in farm bills and appropriations legislation.
“Additionally, the committee has provided funding for core HBCU [historically black colleges and universities] research and extension programs as well as provided investments to ensure that our HBCUs and other institutions can continue to train the next generation of leaders and scientists to help us address climate change and feed and clothe people around the world.
“If we are to truly meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, renovating and securing new facilities and equipment is crucial.
“Our bill’s investments in rural development and energy programs to help rural communities increase their use of renewable energy and make energy efficiency improvements on their farms and our rural small businesses.
“We also have included funding for the Rural Partnership Program that my colleague [Rep.] Antonio Delgado [D-N.Y.] has championed.
“And built on the provisions of the American Rescue Plan by broadening access to debt relief for at risk USDA farm loan borrowers.
“This includes a renewed focus on providing technical and financial assistance to ensure that underserved producers have access to USDA programs and capital for their operations,” Panetta said.
But Thompson told the House Rules Committee, “I am at a loss for words for today’s meeting and having to testify as ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee.”
“The Committee on Agriculture marked up our reconciliation instructions in a hurry on September 10. We were in such a hurry, in fact, that the committee print didn’t include nearly one-third of the spending we now see before us today because we did not have time to figure out the CBO issues.
“During the markup, the Republicans offered a motion to postpone until September 20 so our member could have their say in all the spending that would be within our committee’s jurisdiction.
“That motion was voted down by the Democrats even after several of their members also lamented the fact that we were marking up incomplete language.
“It is now October 28. And here we are again in a hurry, governed by yet another artificial deadline. We have had this language for 1 HOUR. And I can tell you that it is significantly different from what my committee sent to the Budget Committee in September.
“And I would bet that it will probably change again. Why the rush? Why the secrecy? What is stopping us from taking the time to build bipartisan support and vet this unprecedented amount of spending?
“We were left to assume the missing billions and relevant policy would be added at the Rules Committee. For the record, our majority has NEVER given us the complete text of the provisions within the jurisdiction of the House Agriculture Committee.
“I am frustrated on the grounds of process — an issue I’d hope the Rules Committee could appreciate.
“Respectfully, Mr. Chairman, this is a dereliction of process. In fact, dereliction is an understatement. It is blatant abuse. Your committee and mine have become pawns in this process.
“Now we must all sit idly by as the provisions in our committee’s jurisdiction are crafted behind closed doors by individuals who could not care less about the many crises impacting rural America.
“So despite the billions in spending in this bill, this majority somehow managed to again ignore the needs of rural America.
“From rural broadband to disaster assistance, the safety net to COVID relief, this majority has neglected these needs. These are urgent issues that demand bipartisan solutions.
“Adding insult to injury, despite my many requests, members of the majority have refused to commit to me that any offsets included in any package would not financially devastate our family farms.
“I fear these impending tax policies, shrouded in secrecy, will destroy farm families.
“For example, a recent study has shown these policies could add $1.4 million to the average tax liability for a farm family.
“Mr. Chairman, from where I sit, Democrat leadership does not care about the committee you and I both sit on and they do not represent interests of the backbone of this nation: farmers, ranchers, foresters, and rural communities.
“So, they continue to ignore the plight of the very people that feed, clothe, and fuel our great nation, through shoddy process, careless legislation, and exorbitant spending.
“With that, I am committed to ensuring the American public knows how these destructive policies and this broken process, or lack thereof, will crush their livelihoods and saddle future generations with debt and irreversible government overreach,” Thompson said.
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