May 6, 2016

Washington Watch: House Ag Subcommittee Hearing Coverage

A representative of CropLife America spoke about the importance of transparency in regulatory actions on Capitol Hill last week.

Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA, testified before the House Committee on Agriculture, Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research Subcommittee. Answering a question from full Committee Chairman Mike Conoway – Vroom explained how the EPA’s recent actions have undermined the purpose of the protections established in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

CropLife America Jay Vroom

 Watch the full hearing – RE: Focus on the Farm Economy: Factors Impacting Cost of Production – YouTube – Focus on the Farm Economy

Farm Director Rusty Halvorson takes notes in the background as Jay Vroom of CropLife America answers questions from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Farm Director Rusty Halvorson takes notes in the background as Jay Vroom of CropLife America answers questions from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

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Washington Watch: EPA’s Social Media Habits Raise Concerns – audio

Ohio GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs has said in the past that he wants the Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General to examine whether EPA improperly colluded with advocacy groups to generate support for a controversial measure that expands the agency’s oversight over water bodies.

A letter that Gibbs and more than 100 members of Congress recently sent to the EPA’s Inspector General describes an “unprecedented grassroots lobbying effort,” first reported in The New York Times, where the agency partnered with groups like the Sierra Club and Organizing for America to generate favorable public comments for its Waters of the United States rule.

Congressman Gibbs, a member of the House Ag Committee, spoke with broadcasters gathered on Capitol Hill for Washington Watch.

 Bob Gibbs on EPA

 The letter that Gibbs sent to the EPA says Justice Department guidelines bar agency employees from engaging in substantial grassroots lobbing and providing administrative support for private groups’ lobbying activities.

Bob Gibbs on the Solution

“The EPA consistently made claims that it had received more than one million comments on the rule, and about 90 percent of them were supportive,” the letter says. “The vast majority of comments – more than 98 percent – appeared to be mass mailings generated by EPA’s lobbying efforts.”

 

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Pending Trade Deals May Become a Casualty of the Elections

With the frontrunners emerging in the U.S. Presidential race, free trade supporters on Capitol Hill are concerned about the level of trade protectionism that’s been on display on the campaign trail.

Donald Trump is on the verge of becoming the Republican nominee. His agenda has included a vow to block the sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership proposal that’s been negotiated with several Pacific Rim countries.  Trump also wants to renegotiate the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Leading Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton has tried to put some distance between herself and certain free trade initiatives, most notably the TPP deal.

Folks that are opposed to deals like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership are encouraged that trade has become such a dominant issue in the presidential election campaign.

During Washington Watch on Capitol Hill last week, we visited just outside the Longworth House Office Building with Amber Miller from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She serves as the National Rapid Response Coordinator for United Steelworkers.  She and nearly 700 other American workers were in DC to visit with members of Congress to explain their opposition to TPP.

Opponents of TPP (2)

The United Steelworkers have described TPP as “a dagger twisting in the heart of American manufacturing.” They’d like to see more protection for American jobs.

Opponents of TPP (3)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the outlook for TPP on Capitol Hill this year is “bleak” – citing the worst political trade environment to pass a trade bill since he joined the Senate. Still, he says the deal could be modified and perhaps put to a vote in 2017 or later.

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