“It’s a rather drastic step to move a bill by petition, which is why signing the petition did send a strong message that we need a farm bill. Obviously we would like to see a vote on the Farm Bill as currently written and Tipton’s position that we move the bill forward for a (floor) vote has not changed.”
— Josh Green, press secretary for Congressman Scott Tipton
Congressman Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, last week endorsed a discharge petition that would bring the Farm Bill before the U.S. House of Representatives for a floor vote.
The next day, Sept. 13, Tipton removed his name from the petition.
Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, one of two challengers vying for the Third Congressional District of Colorado — an office currently occupied by Tipton, criticized the Congressman for flip flopping on the Farm Bill, and bowing to political pressure from House leaders and right wing special interest groups like Club for Growth.
“A trend has developed of Congressman Tipton putting the demands of party leadership and Washington (D.C.) special interests over the Coloradans he’s been elected to represent,” Pace said in a Sept. 18 news release. “It appears Congressman Tipton can’t bring himself to buck his party leadership.”
The Farm Bill, also known as The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012, provides drought relief to farmers, provisions for fire protection and extends conservation programs, among others.
But Josh Green, Tipton’s press secretary in Washington, D.C., said the Congressman removed his name from the discharge petition only after its intended effect had been realized.
“(Tipton) added his name to the discharge petition to send a message that we need a farm bill,” Green said. “That message was received when party leadership assured Tipton that they would be taking action on the House floor in the near future to provide some certainty for the (Agriculture) community.
“With that assurance (Tipton) felt comfortable removing his name from the petition.”
As a matter of clarification, Green added that alleged influence from Club for Growth played no part in Tipton’s decision to remove his name from the petition.
The discharge process, however, did influence Tipton’s decision to remove his name from the petition, Green said.
According to House procedure, once a discharge petition has garnered 218 signatures the bill under consideration would be discharged by the House Committee on Rules.
A full House would first vote on the rule to consider the Farm Bill.
Depending on how the rule is written, the Farm Bill could come to the House floor for a vote as originally passed by the House Committee on Agriculture or the bill could be opened up to additional revisions and/or amendments, Green said.
“It’s a rather drastic step to move a bill by petition, which is why signing the petition did send a strong message that we need a farm bill,” Green said. “Obviously we would like to see a vote on the Farm Bill as currently written and Tipton’s position that we move the bill forward for a (floor) vote has not changed.”
Tipton sits on the House Agriculture Committee and has already voted in support of the Farm Bill, Green said.
Though Chad Obermiller, Pace’s campaign manager, concurred with Green’s interpretation of the discharge petition process, he raised one point of clarification.
A bill rushed to the House floor by petition could be opened up to additional revisions only if the committee of jurisdiction, in this case the House Agriculture Committee, had not already been through the mark up process, he said.
The Farm Bill has been through the mark up process, Obermiller said, and was passed by committee 35-11.
Taking those facts into consideration, Obermiller did not think Tipton raised a compelling argument for removing his name from the discharge petition.
“What kind of negotiating is that?” Obermiller said. “If (Tipton) believes the country needs a farm bill then keep the pressure on. I know that’s what the farmers and ranchers of the (Third Congressional) District would like to see.”
In the most recent development, John Boehner, R-Ohio, Speaker of the House of Representatives, announced Thursday the Farm Bill would not be brought to the floor for a vote until after the November general election.
“I can’t tell if Congressman Tipton is being dishonest about the reasons for removing his name or if he is Washington’s worst negotiator,” Pace said in a Sept. 20 news release. “In any event, his actions, and the actions of Washington D.C., do nothing to provide any certainty or stability to Colorado’s farmers and ranchers.
“The time is now for Congressman Tipton to put party aside and do what’s right for Colorado.”
Tipton responded to Pace’s comments by pointing out the Farm Bill was never a partisan political issue.
“We voted in a bipartisan fashion to get the Farm Bill out of committee and we’re committed to bringing it to the floor for a vote,” Tipton said. “There’s no need to sign the petition again because it met its intent and Speaker Boehner has assured membership the bill will be brought up during the lame duck session.”
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.