Rep. Tim Huelskamp’s vote against the farm bill last Thursday tells us all we need to know about why Congress is failing — and why, interestingly, both parties are to blame.
Here’s a great roundup from Politico on the farm bill fiasco.
The 1st district congressman from Kansas really has just one major job: Protect the interests of farmers. It’s one of the most heavily agricultural districts in the nation, and it grows a crop — wheat — that is highly dependent on farm policy.
Huelskamp’s 1st district predecessors knew this. Bob Dole, Jerry Moran, and Pat Roberts all put farm interests at the top of their to-do lists while serving in the House. Dole helped write the modern food stamp law. Roberts chaired the House Ag Committee. All helped craft farm bills that passed and were signed into law.
In two years, Huelskamp has not only failed to push a farm bill through the House, he has so alienated the leadership in his party that they kicked him off the Ag Committee.
But the truth is — and this is crucial — Huelskamp’s decision is perfectly rational in the current political environment.
Huelskamp’s national profile, gained at the expense of his district, hasn’t hurt him at all with its voters. Not only has he avoided a primary fight, he had no opposition in 2012.
There are whispers of discomfort within Huelskamp’s district, and mumbles about finding a Republican to challenge him next year. Talk to a few farmers (and more than a few Republicans), and mention Huelskamp, and eyes start to roll.
But Democrats have abandoned the district, leaving no one to make the argument that Huelskamp should probably spend more time working for his Kansas constituents than Sean Hannity.
For that, Democrats are to blame.
As I tweeted Thursday, an important slice of Congress is more interested in making points than making law. Huelskamp is the poster child for that approach.
As long as that’s the case, laws won’t get made.