by Ken Root
Washington, D.C. is buzzing today as the first skirmish of a building war is being fought. Today, its all about Trump Appointments, then it will be about Health Care, Regulatory Reform and Job Growth.
Where does Agriculture Fit in. At this point there isn’t a nominee to run the USDA. The only major cabinet job not named.
An Iowa Girl, Mary Kay Thatcher from Norwalk, has won her reputation as being in the know in Washington, D.C. The long time Farm Bureau Lobbyist will give her views on what will really happen in Washington that impacts Agriculture.
During the American Farm Bureau Convention in Phoenix that began on Friday, January 6th and runs through the 11th, Farm Bureau’s DC staff member, Mary Kay Thatcher, sat down with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays and talked about several topics that we are about to see happening in Washington over the next few months. She covered a number of issues into which she believes Congress will begin looking.
“I think the first thing they’re going to do, is work on the Affordable Care Act and at least trying to roll back part of that,” Thatcher suggested, pointing out a vote scheduled to happen later this month. “I wouldn’t anticipate it would be much longer than that, they’ll set up some kind of a reconciliation vote on taxes, so we can work on tax reform – But certainly the Senate will be busy doing confirmation hearings on all the various individuals.”
She says, too, that it should not be long either before the agriculture committees announce a schedule for early hearings and listening sessions for the upcoming Farm Bill. Additionally, Thatcher mentions jump-starting the process to get the Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule rolled back will be gaining pressure as well.
Obviously, with a new administration comes the visitation of many more hot button issues. Thatcher says this process can be quite long, in making sure all the details and protocols are properly worked through. Items on this agenda will most likely not only include WOTUS, but may reopen negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well. The first order of business though at this time that has the agricultural community on the edge of their seats is, who will President-elect Donald Trump select as his Agriculture secretary nominee.
“I think there’s a lot of interest in what’s happening,” Thatcher said. “But, obviously, what’s more important than when, is that we get a quality candidate. If that’s what they’re looking for, getting just the right person, I applaud them for it, but I would hope it happens soon. We’d like to get that confirmation hearing going as well as the other ones.”
Especially, when it comes to Trump’s nominee for the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s current Attorney General and well-known opponent of Obama’s EPA under Gina McArthy.
“We’re very excited,” Thatcher exclaimed. “We want to make sure that we can get him confirmed, so we’re spending a lot of time and lot of effort on working with Scott Pruitt.”