"Let’s do the right thing, pass a farm bill"...
While visiting the Port of New Orleans on Friday to deliver a speech on boosting the economy through exports and job creation, President Barack Obama jabbed foot-dragging lawmakers as he announced that he has moved passing a new Farm Bill to the #1 spot on his list of economic policy priorities.
During his address to a crowd of
about 650 Port workers and community members, the President was flanked by gigantic blue gantry cranes as he stood on a stage and called on both parties to work together to finally get the job done.
addition to working with Congress to grow our exports, I’ve put forward
additional ideas where I believe Democrats and Republicans can join
together to make progress right now," President Obama said.
one, Congress needs to pass a farm bill that helps rural communities
grow and protects vulnerable Americans."
Lawmakers have battled for months over passing the new multi-billion dollar, five-year legislation that funds the Department of Agriculture's programs, including the nation's nutrition safety net, which each month offers benefits to more than 46.6 million Americans just with the Food Stamps program.
Over the summer, the Congressional impasse included the US House splitting
the nutrition title into separate legislation. Subsidies for farmers, crop insurance, and conservation are also hot spots in the ongoing debate.
decades, Congress found a way to compromise and pass farm bills without
fuss," President Obama said.
"For some reason, now Congress can't even get that done."
"This is not something that just benefits farmers," President Obama added. "Ports like this one depend on all the products coming down the Mississippi."
"So let’s do the right thing, pass a farm bill."
chambers have recently been meeting in Conference Committee to hammer
out Farm Bill components, but there is still no deal in hand.
President got applause as he added that when a new Farm Bill is passed, "we can start selling
"That's more business for this port. And that means more
jobs right here," he said.
During his weekly address on Oct. 19, the President said passing a new Farm Bill was number three on his list of policy priorities, behind #1, "a balanced approach to a responsible budget," and #2, comprehensive immigration reform.
now the President has flipped the order: Comprehensive immigration
reform is now #2 on his list, he told the Port crowd, with passing "a
responsible budget that sets America on a stronger course for the
future" sitting at the #3 position.
current legislation that funds the government expires on January 15,
2014. Under the deal that re-opened the government following the 16-day
shutdown, the 2008 Farm Bill was extended with programs and budgets intact
"at current levels."
Port of New Orleans is crucial to US agricultural exports...
President Obama toured the Port before his remarks, and during his speech he also pointed out the
Port’s importance to US agricultural exports as he noted his
Administration's efforts to eliminate bureaucratic red tape that impedes
"In so many ways, this port is
representative of what ports all around the country do: They help to
keep our economy going — moving products, moving people, making sure
that businesses are working," President Obama said.
corn and wheat that’s coming down from my home state of Illinois down
the river, ending up here, and then going all around the world. And
it’s part of the reason why we’ve been able to increase exports so
rapidly, is because we’ve got some of the best natural resources and
waterways and facilities in the world."
"If there’s one thing
that members of Congress from both parties want, it’s smart
infrastructure projects that create good jobs in their districts,”
President Obama continued.
"That’s why, last year, I took the
step without Congress to speed up the permitting process for big
infrastructure projects like upgrading our ports. Just cut through the
red tape. Get it done faster."
2009, exports moving through the New Orleans region have increased by
140%, the White House said, "including a 20% increase this year alone."
Total US exports have grown by more than 50% since President Obama took
office, according to the White House.
President Obama also told the crowd that during his tour he learned that the Port handles a lot of the nation’s coffee.
"Which means you’re responsible for keeping the White House awake at all times," he said, to laughter.
the end of his speech, the President veered into a defense of
Obamacare, saying no one has been more frustrated or "unhappy" than he
has been by the bug-filled, glitchy healthcare.gov website, which has
prevented people from enrolling.
"I wanted to go in and fix it myself, but I don't write code," President Obama said.
During his Port tour and speech, President Obama was accompanied by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R), Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx; Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA); Gary LaGrange, President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans; Keith Palmisano, General Manager, Ports America; Chris Hammond, longshoreman; and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, as well as by White House aides. (Above, touring the port)
Pool spotted Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) in the crowd; the President mentioned during his remarks that members of the Congressional Black Caucus had been invited to New Orleans.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) flew to Louisiana with the President aboard Air Force One, but departed for her own business after the arrival in New Orleans.
President left the Port in the afternoon, heading aboard Air Force One
for Miami, Florida for three Democratic fundraisers in the evening. He was scheduled to spend the night in Miami before returning to Washington, DC late on Saturday.
*Photos by Pete Souza/White House. White House video.