● The fiscal cliff legislation, H.R. 8, that passed the House last night, did so by a vote of 257 to 167. The Pacific Northwest’s delegation was in favor by 11 to 5, with “No” votes being cast by four Democrats (Blumenauer/Oregon, DeFazio/Oregon, Schrader/Oregon, Smith/Washington) and one Republican (Labrador/Idaho).
● Passage of H.R. 8 killed all hope in the 112th Congress for a new five-year Farm Bill. Instead, there will be an extension to September 30, 2013, of most of the provisions of the Farm Bill that had lapsed last fall. I think that with major fiscal budget battles in the offing in 2013, it will be difficult for the produce industry to keep the gains that were achieved in last summer’s Senate-passed version of the Farm Bill. It will also be difficult to quickly enact a new five-year Farm Bill, given that every legislative proposal needs to start afresh in the 113th Congress and its many newly elected members (over 80) may have different views on the substance of the many policy and funding issues entangled in this legislation, which include nutrition programs, conservation, agricultural research, export marketing, crop insurance, commodity titles (such as dairy), and so forth.
● During national television coverage of yesterday’s events on Capitol Hill, it was nice to see a live interview with Congressman Norm Dicks (D/Washington). Mr. Dicks, 72, retires with the close of the 112th Congress after serving in the House of Representatives since 1977. Prior to that, he was a top aide to Senator Warren Magnuson (D/Washington). Although he had few, if any, orchards in this district, his important door was always open to the fruit growers of his state.
● Senator Mike Crapo (R/Idaho) was ticketed for drunk driving in Alexandria, Virginia, prior to Christmas. He handled this negative issue in textbook fashion. He quickly accepted full blame, apologized, and promised to adhere to any punishment meted out by the court. My bet is that the incident soon will be behind him and Idaho voters will be forgiving.
● Political Fruit: “Well, look, there are a couple of opportunities, which you have mentioned, over the next three months, and Republicans believe they have a couple bites of the apple. Of course, there is the debt limit ….” Jen Psaki on CNN’s “Starting Point With Soledad O’Brien,” aired January 2, 2013.