Jodey Arrington gives legislative update at Muleshoe Chamber BreakfastRhea Gonzales January 30, 2019 0 COMMENTS
BY GAIL M. WILLIAMS
Muleshoe Journal Correspondent
U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington recently spoke to Chamber of Commerce members and guests at a breakfast meeting last week.
Representing the 19th District of Texas since January 2017, Arrington was recently appointed to the House Ways and Means Committee, the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives.
Previously, Arrington served on the House Agriculture and House Budget committees.
“The House Ways and Means Committee is the oldest standing committee. It’s been around since 1789,” Arrington said.
Arrington spoke about the importance of the Farm Bill, which Congress passed on Dec. 12.
“I wouldn’t have left the ag committee without the Farm Bill done,” Arrington said.
Although he acknowledges that you never get everything you want, Arrington mentioned having better protection for cotton, covering not only the land, but also the seed. For dairy, the bill included margin protection up to 5 million pounds.
If the Farm Bill had not passed by the end of 2018, Arrington said they would have had to “hand the pen over to Nancy Pelosi for the Democrats to rewrite.”
Arrington said the bill, five years in the making, has made the safety net stronger, protected crop insurance and the grass lease, engaged the family component, and increased flexibility for the young beginning farmer by increasing the loan limit for FSA loans.
Arrington outlined his top three goals for the Ways and Means Committee as follows:
Trade, prosperity and growth.
“When I say growth, I mean growth, not survival,” Arrington said. “I’m tired of surviving. If you can’t breathe, you can’t live to farm another day.”
Though the U.S. has “put the screws to China” with tariffs, Arrington said he believes we need to do more free trade.
“We need to take up the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership). We’ve got the best beef in the world, but Australia gets low tariff to no tariff. If we didn’t have a 45 percent tariff tax, we could get in the game. We need to work on more trade bills.”
“I’m proud of being able to do things for community,” Arrington said. “Rural hospitals in rural America in communities like Muleshoe are tied to agriculture. If we can’t sustain the one, we won’t sustain the other.”
Arrington described healthcare as centerpiece for rural community sustainability.
A Farm Bill conference report states that the legislation authorizes the refinancing of debt obligation of rural hospitals as an eligible loan or loan guarantee if the assistance would help preserve access to health service in a rural community and meaningfully improve the financial position of the hospital.
“A hospital in Muleshoe, Plainview, Seminole, Denver City is different from a hospital in Houston,” Arrington said. “We need to find a way to skin this cat. We keep going with this program, that program. We need to tie this up, tape this together. We make them work too hard. We need to get rid of needless mandates that are not even relevant to rural hospitals.”
Arrington said that if the nation keeps going the way it’s going, in 10 years Social Security, “the safety net for seniors,” will be gone.
“That’s a real crisis,” Arrington said. “We’re afraid to talk about it, but we’ve got to do it. We’ve got to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”
Arrington said President Donald J. Trump is working on trade.
“I’m all for fair trade,” Arrington said, “as long as we’re competing on the same, level playing field, under the same conditions and rules that other producers and manufacturers are operating under.”
“China and others want to put us out of the food-making business. They want to take America down … without firing a single shot.
“At a minimum, we need to protect the things we make that have national security implications, like steel, aluminum, food and other products.
“This president knows exactly what they’re trying to do, but every other president and politician before him has never had the guts, or the staying power to bring them to their knees, to bring them to the table, to hit reset.
“No other country can do that but America, and no other president but Trump.”
Arrington acknowledged that some agriculture producers, such as soybean farmers, have been hurt by the tariffs.
Arrington said he spoke to Trump during a meeting about the fallout from tariffs, when some were “basically whining” about fallout.
“I said, Mr. President, our guys are for you. Texas is for you. We want fair deals from for our team.”
Arrington said the U.S. was No. 1 in cotton production, “until we let China dump cheap product on the market, let them subsidize their cotton farmers. Then we were at 60 cents while they were at $1.20.
“We are the most efficient, most technology-savvy, hardest-working people in the world. We have always been the economic engine of the world, but it’s hard to compete with state-sponsored industries, to compete with industry that gets subsidized by its government, like China did and does.
“The Farm Bill is about safety nets, it’s about infrastructure investment like the broadband, it’s about sustainability.”
However, Arrington cautioned, “Farmers ought not to make a living off the Farm Bill. You need to be a good farmer, a good dairyman. It’s elements of competition that weed out the bad guys and the good guys.”
At the time Arrington spoke, the U.S. government had been shut down for more than a month, since Dec. 22, 2018. It reopened for a limited time on Jan. 25.
“Does anyone want to know about the government shutdown?” Arrington asked at the Chamber of Commerce meeting. “I want to know about it, because I’m not getting paid either.”
Arrington said he waived his salary until the government opened up, “because it’s the right thing to do,” when 800,000 federal employees were not getting paid.
Republican or Democrat, Arrington takes a dim view of Congress and fiscal responsibility. He called for a constitutional amendment forcing the government to balance the budget.
“Texas has it. Every state has it, and Congress needs that because I just don’t see any self-discipline, any self-regulation. I wouldn’t be for shutting government down for just anything. It’s disruptive to the lives of our fellow Americans, to our government operations, to the military and other key functions.”
Arrington remarked that the No. 1 job of the government is providing for our common defense.
“Protecting the American people is the No. 1 job of the American government. You can debate things like health care, but there is no debate when it comes to making sure that the American people are safe. We need to protect our sovereignty, secure our nation.
Arrington said the nation should have “tunnel vision” until those on the front lines, the border patrol, the armed services and “our men in blue” get what they need.
Recently, Arrington said, the military has been losing more soldiers and planes in training accidents.
“One-third of our planes can’t fly, and half aren’t combat ready,” he said. “We’ve spread our troops thinner and thinner with more in combat, but we’re not giving them what they need.”
The Trump administration has added $200 billion in military spending over the Obama era, with the result that “our fly boys and fly girls are flying B-21s.”
When the American Air Force flies B-21s over the DMZ of Kim Jung Un’s North Korea, “they dip their wings a little bit, just to let them know,” Arrington said.
Arrington described Trump as a “fighter, absolutely, doggedly, relentlessly, committed to doing what he said he would do in the campaign. It’s refreshing to have a president who won’t say one thing and do another.
“The president is a godsend to this country. During my first two years in the U.S. Congress, he has had a lot of influence, pushing us to do things I don’t know that we would have done without having him in the office.”
“I have criticized him,” Arrington admitted, “but he is committed to this country, to West Texas values, to my constituency, to his presidential agenda. I might say things a little differently.”
Arrington compared Trump with Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States.
“Ronald Reagan inspired me to do what I’m doing now,” he said. “I’m one of Reagan’s children. He influenced me at the right age. I was awestruck by his leadership. A whole generation was impacted and inspired to do this public service.
“When I prayed for this country during the 2016 election, we were on the precipice. I did not want America to look like the European Union.
“Well, I prayed that God would raise up a Ronald Reagan. He raised up a General Patton. Trump’s a fighter, he’s strong, he punches back at the media. I mean the national media. The local guys are OK. They usually tell it straight and report it as it is.
“He holds the national media accountable. If he doesn’t, I don’t know who else will.”
Arrington added, “At some point we’ll probably need a break. We’ll need to heal this country. Right now, we need to claw and scratch to keep this thing from going off into the ditch.”
Arrington said the crisis at the border is not just a political talking point.
“It is real. I spoke with the chief of police and the sheriff in Lubbock about drugs, gangs and cartels in our backyard that would just shock you. As you all know, the border is wide open. Just like a lot of things, promises were made, the can was kicked down the road and nothing happened.
“Do I think the wall is the panacea, the silver bullet to securing the border? No. I do think it’s a component, as basic as fencing around homes. I think it’s ridiculous to say it’s immoral. Yes, Democrats voted for 700 miles of fencing, and $1.5 billion for the wall, yes, they live behind protection of walls and fences. They say silly, absurd things, as bad as I’ve ever heard. It’s beyond unreasonable, it’s irrational behavior.
“The president has negotiated in good faith, giving them whatever they need, DACA, the wall, wherever we need to have it. The President’s bending over backwards to negotiate.”
Arrington said he favored DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), because “First of all, the kids were brought here through no fault of their own. They should have legal status immediately. I’m not saying citizenship, but doing what’s fair, reasonable and compassionate.
“If the Democrats don’t move toward president, I’m telling president to declare a national emergency and get on with it. He’s already deployed the military. Now he should declare an emergency and build the wall. But we should save that DACA chip, save H2C.“
H2C is a key component in a guest worker provision that provides agriculture and dairy with year-round, documented labor.
“Because we’re West Texans with West Texas values, your representative welcomes any freedom-loving, law-abiding person from anywhere in the world to come to this country and be an American, as long as they respect our laws and our country, with no qualifier, no caveat,” Arrington said. “If you happen to be on the conservative side of politics, don’t let anyone tell you that we don’t love the immigrant and the immigrant story, which is quintessentially the American story.
“I love our core values, our constitutional principles. I love this country and, therefore, I want to make sure new blood coming in, when it mixes with existing blood, just makes it better greater and stronger.”