Senators Praise Chairwoman Stabenow’s Leadership, Tenacity and Commitment to Bipartisanship in the 2014 Farm Bill

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Senators from both sides of the aisle praised U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, for her leadership, tenacity and commitment to working in a bipartisan way to finish the 2014 Farm Bill. The bipartisan bill was signed into law by President Obama February 7 at Michigan State University, the country's first land grant institution and a national leader in agriculture research. The Farm Bill marked a rare example of Congress passing a major bipartisan jobs bill as well as a major bipartisan deficit reduction bill.

Here's what some of Senator Stabenow's colleagues have said this year about her work on the Farm Bill:

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Majority Leader, said: "I have been in the Senate a while, in the House a while, as has been the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, a junior Senator from Michigan, so I have seen people handle legislation. Work done by Senator Stabenow has been remarkably good. It's exemplary for her to work to the point where we're going to pass this important legislation."

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee, said: "It's been a pleasure to be a part of this team, we have worked in a nonpartisan, bi-partisan, collegial manner and across the Capitol dealing with the two conferees has been a pleasure and a challenge, but I think it has produced a product we can all be proud of and we're glad to be here today to celebrate our victory.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), said: "I've been here for seven of these 5 year farm bills and I have never seen such a rollercoaster in my life. And thank goodness Debbie Stabenow was at the controls of that rollercoaster, working so closely with my friend from Mississippi Thad Cochran. They kept us on track... I think, the American taxpayers, rural America, the farmers of America, the hungry people of America owe the leadership...a great deal of thanks."

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), said: I'd like to thank Senator Stabenow for her leadership on the Ag committee and also Senator Cochran. They did a tremendous job and I was a member of that conference committee and their leadership showed... every one of these was a big time challenge. To go through all of those issues and come up with compromises that then at the end, got out of the conference report out of the committee with maybe one dissenting vote on the Senate side and maybe two or so dissenting votes on the House side shows their ability to come up with compromises to really challenging issues."

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), said: "I think almost everyone can agree that we wouldn't be here but for the tenacity and leadership of Chairwoman Stabenow. People kept asking me in North Dakota, ‘How do you know you're going to get a farm bill?' I said, ‘Have you met Debbie?' Just a little hint because she never takes no for an answer. As my colleague Sen. Hoeven is fond of saying ‘she's a tough negotiator.' I said that's right, that's right."

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), said: "I just want to thank our [Agriculture Committee] leadership for working so very hard to get this done... at the end of the day I think we got a very good product, something we can all be proud of."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), said: "People are saying Congress can't get something done. Well in the last few months we finally got a budget done, we got a farm bill done and I'm just hoping with little action by the House we can move on immigration."

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), said: "Chairman Stabenow and ranking member Cochran have written a commonsense bill. This an era when too many folks look for reasons to vote "no" instead of "yes," it takes strong and determined leaders to bring a responsible bipartisan bill like this to the floor. And that's why, because I'm in production agriculture especially, the work that chairman Stabenow and member Cochran did for the American farmers and ranchers needs to be commended."

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), said: "I would like to talk today briefly about the Farm Bill, a measure that, thanks to months and months, actually years of tireless work by Chairwoman Stabenow, ranking member Cochran, and the other conferees on the bill, Democrats and Republicans in both houses of congress, thanks to all of that work we're going to be able to pass this bill."

Senators from both sides of the aisle have praised Sen. Stabenow's work throughout the Farm Bill process. Here's what they have said in the past:

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV): "Democrats and Republicans disagree on many things. So it's really remarkable and encouraging to see how well Senators Stabenow and Senator Cochran - the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee - worked together to bring the agriculture jobs bill to the floor. Their work has been exemplary - some would say old-fashioned - the way things used to be."

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA): "Thank you Madam Chair, and first of all let me commend you and the ranking member on working hard once again to produce what we all know from firsthand experience is a very difficult bill to produce. The process is always difficult to do, trying to match up all regions and all crops, so I want to commend you....The biggest issue facing our country now is the growing debt and deficit, and I commend this committee for doing the needed work to find the needed savings...That is remarkable madam Chair that you have been able to craft a bill with that kind of number in there under the conditions we are operating in."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): "It's been 327 days since the Senate passed the last Farm Bill in June of 2012. Since that time farmers, ranchers, rural communities in America have been through a lot. In 2012 we had the worst drought since 1956, costing the country billions of dollars.... I'm so pleased with the work this committee has done, the bipartisan work this committee has done, and I'm also pleased we found a way to do this while still reducing the debt. We've eliminated direct payments and further focused farm programs on our family farmers and I urge this committee to stick with its $23 billion target to ensure we have the strongest bill possible."

Sen. John Boozman (R-AK): "We appreciate you having the markup today and for all your hard work in bringing forward this bipartisan and reform oriented legislation. Like all of the other members of this committee I recognize that our producers need a strong five year farm bill that ensures our nation will have the world's safest, most affordable and most reliable food supply and fiber. We know that the only way to accomplish this is for this committee to report a bipartisan bill that provides a safety net for all crops and regions, invests in the future of rural America, preserves the safety net for the most vulnerable members of our communities, and finally a bill that includes significant reforms and contributes to reducing our federal deficit."

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA): "I thank you Madam Chair for your great leadership of this committee. I always marvel at the fact that our Chair has the unique distinction of having served on the Agriculture Committee in the state legislature, the US House and the US Senate. I don't know that anyone else has ever had that kind of a career. And I thank you for all of your diligence in getting this bill through when there's some really tremendous and terrible hardships in the budget.... hopefully we can get this over the finish line now."

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE): "I certainly know that creating a Farm bill is never easy and there's a lot of different philosophies about farm policies and of course we come from lots of different parts of the country with different crops.... The improvements [in this bill] reduce costs as well as make the programs more farmer friendly. This bill also helps farmers produce more food on less land, hope to do more in that area. And includes new avenues to ensure that important work continues despite a tight federal budget."

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT): "I think I can speak for all members of the committee in expressing my appreciation for putting this together. It's been a long road. It's also very important that we have a five year bill. Many of us believe these short term extensions just don't make sense and I thank you for a five year bill. Five is a very important number - one in 5 Montana jobs is related to agriculture, it's our number one industry... I must say too, that the bill saves taxpayers a lot of money. With debt reduction that too is a big feather in your cap so there are a lot of reasons why this is good legislation and again I thank you very much for it."

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND): "Thank you to both you and the ranking member for getting us into this committee with this markup. I know farmers and ranchers across this great country appreciate it very much as well. I also appreciate the spirit in which you approached this Farm Bill, building on the work from the bill last session and really working to add some things that I hope can ensure that we go to the floor untied with this bill."

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND): "I wanted to tell you how grateful I am for your leadership and the leadership of the ranking member to bring this bill... the Farm Bill has never been a partisan bill... And so hopefully we'll be able to do this, we'll be able to achieve the compromise that we need to move this forward. But we're extremely hopeful that the House will also do this, and just for once if we can set a goal of getting this done before the expiration of the extension, that would be an amazing feat and one I think we would talk about for a lot years as an example of what we can do."

Sen. Mo Cowan (D-MA): "I speak not just for the farmers that till the soil and cultivate the land but for those who cultivate the sea. I also want to applaud you and others for the hard fought agreement on conservation compliance as represented in the mark up. I think this a good compromise and everyone will benefit... I want to thank you Madam Chair for doing your best to protect the SNAP benefits in this bill and others. I know it's not been easy, there's more work to be done...I look forward to the conversation today and the amendment process and taking a bipartisan bill to the floor."

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Majority Leader: "[T]he Republican Leader and I... would be remiss if we didn't say something to the entire Senate about how we feel about this bill and the leadership that was shown by these two fine Senators... We know how hard they worked to get where we are... I cannot say enough, although I will try, to applaud and compliment Senator Stabenow and Senator Roberts..."

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader: "Senator Stabenow and Senator Roberts have worked together very skillfully... I think we're moving back in the direction of operating the Senate in a way that we sort of traditionally understood we were going to operate the Senate... This is a very fine day in the recent history of the Senate. I congratulate the Chairwoman of the committee and the ranking member. They did a fabulous [job]."

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT): "Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts clearly worked together... I do hope that something happens here, in addition to passing a farm bill... It's the psychology of us being legislators with amendments and working together.... I'm very hopeful that this will help set a tone about working together. It is not an overstatement to say they did work very hard, they did go the extra mile, that is not just fluff, that's not smoke, that's real. I haven't seen this in some time."

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND): "I want to say [Chairwoman Stabenow] has provided brilliant leadership on this legislation. I'm in my 26th year here. I have never seen a chairman so personally and directly engaged to make legislation happen in an extraordinarily difficult and challenging environment. When the history of this legislation is written, Senator Stabenow, the Chairman of our committee, will be in the front rank of those who made this happen.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE): Let me just start out at congratulating the Chair and the Ranking Member. I have to say I marvel at what you've accomplished here... We haven't seen this kind of reform in a long, long time... I mean it's amazing the steps forward that this farm bill has taken. I compliment both of them - I think it is really a solid piece of work..."

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): "Let me praise both Sen. Stabenow and Sen. Roberts and the Members of the Committee... I've told both of them, I've never seen a farm bill handled this well or this quickly... There is one advantage to it though: no longer will I be getting those Saturday and Sunday and late evening calls from the Chairwoman saying, we have one more issue here. But then she did that with everybody else... Sen. Roberts worked with Sen. Stabenow each step of the way to get a bill. It is the way the Senate used to work and the way the Senate should work and the way the Senate will work. I think the United States Senate owes these two senators a huge debt of gratitude, and I think the country does too."

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA): "Thank you madam Chairman for your cooperation on that issue, it is the most cooperation I have seen in the 10 or 15 years that I have been working on this issue on trying to bring some reform... I also appreciate madam Chairman the work, and the work Ranking Member Roberts, have put into this farm bill..."

Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO): "...When people tell me, ‘What is wrong with you people? Why can't you work together?' I have the opportunity to point to the bipartisan work of this committee as an example of how we should be approaching our work in the U.S. Senate."

Senator John Hoeven (R-ND): "Thank you madam Chairman, I truly appreciate your work and your willingness to work with us and also to Ranking Member Roberts. Thank you Senator for your work and perseverance... I know everyone already said it but I do have to commend the both of you for diligently working though this process..."

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE): "I have never known in a committee structure a Chairperson who reaches out as you have in this effort. We put together a bipartisan budget savings bill, and if others across our government followed this example and made similar cuts, we would be able to achieve the goal that we all have of reducing the deficit and getting it under control. As I've said in the past, this bill will permit people in agriculture to establish their own risk management tools, rather than having to rely on the good will of the government to bail them out."

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA): "I want to thank you for your hard work and working with me and our office so closely and your Ranking Member Senator Roberts; we're grateful. It is a significant example of bipartisanship at a time when you don't see enough of it."