Acknowledging that “nobody is happy” with congressional Republicans, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers said Tuesday that gridlock between the House and Senate has prevented lawmakers from acting on several important legislative issues.
“When you have a split Congress, not much productive happens,” he told members of the Pell City Rotary Club. “About the only good news I have to tell you is that we have passed the Farm Bill. That’s the one piece of major legislation that got passed this year.”
Rogers, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, supported the Agricultural Act of 2014 when it was approved in February. The measure included cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- commonly referred to as the food stamp program – and updated regulations for the nation’s farmers.
“Most people don’t think about the Farm Bill as being a big deal,” he said. “But agriculture is the number-one industry in this state. When you consider the chickens, cotton, soybeans, and trees produced in Alabama, nothing else even comes close. Now that it has passed, our farmers know what they can plant and what their tax structure will be for the next several years.”
Congressional gridlock, however, could result in “this being the last Farm Bill we pass for a while,” the congressman told Rotarians, adding that much of the debate over the plan related to SNAP, which contains the majority of the $956 billion in federal spending authorized by the bill.
While the Republican-controlled House worked with the Democratic majority in the Senate to approve the Agricultural Act, such legislation involving immigration, taxes, and transportation remain pending in the 113th Congress.
“I’m a firm believer that voters get what they want,” Rogers said. “In 2008 and 2010, there was a lot of voter backlash against Congress, which resulted in a split. Collectively, that’s what the country wants, but individually, everybody’s as unhappy as they can be, and nobody is happy with Republicans in the House. I understand that, but if I wasn’t representing my constituency, you’d show me the door. I hope it’s soon when we’ll see the country shift one way or another and things start to move again.”
Should Republicans regain control of the Senate following the November elections, it remains unlikely that Congress would repeal the controversial Affordable Care Act, according to Rogers.
“I hope the public will have realistic expectations. Many are hoping that we can repeal Obamacare and it’s going to go away. It’s not. The changes of a Republican-controlled Congress repealing Obamacare are zero. We’ll try, I assure you, but the president would veto it, and it takes two-thirds of a majority of the House and Senate to override a veto, and there’s just no way we could get that.”
Rogers cited Obamacare as an example of federal mandates that hurt the economy.
“Rising healthcare premiums on working families and small businesses and the vast expansion of federal regulations under President Obama are threatening good paying jobs across St. Clair County and east Alabama. I’m here to tell these hard-working folks that I will continue to fight the Obama Administration’s jobs-threatening agenda and to tell them that their concerns matter to Congress.”
While in Pell City, Rogers visited JRBC Packaging Solutions and The Goodgame Company.
“We should all be proud of what east Alabama’s entrepreneurs and workers are doing in this challenging economy,” he said. “Alabama has the best workforce in America, and it really shows in the great work these folks are doing.”