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Blunt Discusses Senate & Trump Administration Actions to Strengthen Ag Economy

December 12, 2019

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) spoke on the Senate floor to discuss how the Republican-led Senate and the Trump administration have worked together to strengthen the ag economy, including rolling back burdensome regulations, improving infrastructure, and modernizing trade.

Following Are Excerpts From Blunt’s Remarks:

“Mr. President, Monday I spoke at the annual meeting of the Missouri Farm Bureau and in our state, as in frankly almost every other state, the number one economic activity in terms of value produced is in agriculture. Frankly, where we live in the middle of the country we do better in an economy that focuses on growing things and making things, than we do on an economy that focuses more on giving advice. Not that we don't want to give a lot of advice, but the truth is we don't want to get a lot of advice either. So nothing wrong with a service-based economy and nothing wrong with an important service sector in your economy. …

“So at the Farm Bureau meeting, at least three of the things that the people I talked to were most interested in were regulation and transportation and trade. When it comes to regulation, Missouri farm families understand that really many of the best things that have happened to them in the past three years have been the things that didn't happen. There was a terrible regulation proposed, Waters of the U.S., to where the EPA was trying to decide that their authority over navigable water would be the authority over all the water. That navigable water suddenly had become, under the Obama EPA, any water that could run into any water, that could run into any water, that could run into any water, that eventually would run into navigable water. If that’s how we want to define it, the Congress should decide that, not the EPA.

“I stood on this floor many times during that terrifying time when the EPA was about to take over anything related to water, from the new sidewalk in front of your house to whether you paved your driveway to whether you could set a utility pole without EPA approval. And with that Farm Bureau map of Missouri, I think 99. 7% of our state would have met the new EPA definition of the water that the EPA would regulate. … The good news is it didn't happen. The Trump administration moved forward with a Clean Water Act that made more sense. They listened to rural America, they listened to people who build houses, they listened to people who provide power, they listened to people who provide jobs, and they said we're not going to go in that direction.

“Then there was the Obama Clean Power Plan – it sounds like a good thing. Clean power, I'm not opposed to that. I don't know anybody who is. We want power to be as clean as you can reasonably expect it to be, but the Obama Clean Power Plan was so aggressive in its approach that where I live the average utility bill, at home and at work, would have doubled in about ten years. Well, lots of things work at today's utility rate or some gradual increase of today's utility rate that just, frankly, wouldn't work if the utility bill doubled, and that didn't happen either. In fact, we reversed course.

“There’s now an Affordable Clean Energy rule making into law, into regulation that really understands, again, if you at home write your utility check and then write it out of your checkbook again, a lot of the things that you do at your house, you wouldn't be able to do if you had to pay your utility bill twice. And, frankly, the job you have might not be there if you had to pay the utility bill twice. …

“[The Missouri Farm Bureau] certainly understood it takes good highways, it takes good state roads, it takes a strong understanding of connecting highway and road and railroad and water together that allows you to compete. The last continuing resolution on this issue, that we passed just a few weeks ago, actually funded the fifth year of the highway bill that was passed four years ago. Five years of authority, only four years of money, and that $7.6 billion allows the transportation systems in our states and many things in our communities to happen. It allows county bridges to be built. In Missouri, we were going to lose $350 million in federal highway funds if we hadn't figured out how to fund that fifth year, which we did figure out just a few days ago, and knowing that that’s going to happen allows people to begin to look for other things.

“On trade, on Monday, I was predicting that we would get to USMCA before the end of the year. I was pleased, on Tuesday, when it was announced we had an agreement between the House and the administration. The votes have been there for a long time to pass this, but the House has to pass it first. And so, it's important to understand elections have consequences. Speaker Pelosi got to decide and got to do some final negotiation. But trade's important. Trade policy, tax policy, regulatory policy are the three federal policies that make a difference in how competitive we are and how strong our economy is. And certainly when you have our number one and two trading partners, Mexico, our number one trading partner, Canada, our number two trading partner, are involved, clearly when they're the only two countries that we share a border in the continental United States, Mexico and Canada, for the neighborhood to do well, it's important. What's happened in Mexico since NAFTA, incredible. What's happened in the United States in a positive way, also incredible.”

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