By Steve Woodhouse Editor
The Journal Express
---- — The United States House of Representatives failed to pass the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (HR 1947) last week, much to the disappointment of Rep. Dave Loebsack.
“The inability of the House to come together and move a farm bill forward is inexcusable. I have been calling for a farm bill for over a year now. Failure to enact a farm bill means jobs in our rural communities are at risk and cuts to rural and farm initiatives critical to Iowa’s economy are likely. I stood with the entire Iowa delegation to advance this critical legislation for farmers, Iowa’s economy, and families. The Senate was able to find commonsense compromise. The House needs to do the same,” Loebsack said in a statement. “I am deeply concerned with the extreme cuts to anti-hunger initiatives, known as SNAP, that were contained in the bill. Our economy is still struggling to recover and many families rely on this program to put food on the table and ensure their children do not go to school hungry. I was the only member from Iowa to cosponsor an amendment to restore these cuts and fought to have it included in the bill. Today’s vote shows that restoration of SNAP funding is critical to a farm bill being enacted.”
Loebsack said he has been working on this bill for over a year, and believes that now is the time to move the bill along. An amendment to the bill, written by Loebsack to allow farmers access to renewable energy, was included. Loebsack called the bill “imperfect,” but believes it is time to move a bill forward.
Veterans ForumJuly 2
Loebsack is scheduled to be back in Knoxville on Tuesday, July 2, for a veterans’ forum at the VFW at 11:15 a.m. The meeting is open to everyone. This will be a “listening post,” in which he is interested in hearing the concerns about veteran issues, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, to take back to Washington.
Surveillance and the War on Terror
In light of recent revelations that the US government is collecting phone record data and taking other measures to track communications, including those by American citizens, Loebsack was asked his thoughts on the government doing these things without a warrant.
“We’ve got to protect our individual liberties,” Loebsack said. He said a balance needs to be struck between fighting the war on terror and respecting freedom. Loebsack has been briefed on the PRISM program, which tracks Internet usage, but could not discuss details about the program.
“That’s all I can say about it,” Loebsack said. He intends to “stay on top” of these programs and try to protect civil liberties. He does think this is a good time to reevaluate America’s surveillance measures and capabilities.
Loebsack defended the use of some surveillance to track down potential threats. What he did not care for was the scope and breadth of the surveillance, and believes that America’s national security agencies should understand, and respect, the “difference between al-Qaeda and grandma.”
In staying with the conflict theme, Loebsack was asked about the Obama Administration’s decision to arm Syrian rebels.
“I have a lot of concerns about getting involved in this conflict,” Loebsack said. He believes there should be a full discussion about what the administration is doing. Reports have indicated that some of the Syrian rebels have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. According to Loebsack, these groups may not be the ones that will receive American weapons.
“There are a lot of different groups in Syria,” Loebsack said. His primary concern is where the weapons will go, and in whose arms they will fall.