Buck Highlights Plight of Agricola Americus, the American Farmer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Katherine Rosario, 202-225-4676
Washington â€“ Wednesday night, Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) offered three amendments to the FY16 Interior Appropriations bill, and spoke on the House floor about each one. In his first speech, Congressman Buck highlighted the regulatory burdens American farmers face at the hands of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These regulations have caused the number of American farms to steadily decline over the past several decades.
Remarks as Prepared:
Agricola Americus Amendment
Congressman Ken Buck: My amendment appropriates up to 50,000 dollars from the retention bonuses of Senior Executive Personnel at the EPA to conduct a study of whether Agricola Americus, the American Farmer, should be classified as an endangered species. This money should be used to determine whether there is crucial habitat that is essential for the conservation of the species of Agricola Americus and acting in accordance with 16 U.S.C. Chapter 35 if such a finding is made.
The federal government is no stranger to using its regulatory powers to interfere in important national issues, so it came as a surprise when I discovered that the federal government had overlooked the most endangered species in America. The Fish and Wildlife Service has been so thorough in designating animals as endangered all around farms, but for some reason havenâ€™t seen the plight of the American Farmer. Paul Harvey recognized in 1978 that God made Agricola Americus with a unique set of characteristics essential to our nation, so I am troubled that the number of farmers in America has steadily declined over the last six decades.
Not only has the number of American Farmers shrunk, but so has the number of farms. Those lost have mainly been family farms, passed down through generations of hard work and built up with years of sweat equity. They have faced numerous man-made obstacles that interfere with their environment and encroach on their natural territory. They have been subject to the ravages of wolves released by the very Agency that should be tasked with protecting this essential American species.
Yet the Department of Interior does not have a monopoly on societyâ€™s invasion of Agricola Americusâ€™s natural habitat. Family farms have been destroyed by the death tax, regulated out of business by FDA and EPA mandates, and forced to dump crops by outdated government programs that even now, are being struck down by the Supreme Court. How much more of this regulatory onslaught can the Agricola Americus take before we recognize the harm of our actions and work to make sure that we are not complicit in its disappearance? We cannot leave the farmer alone in the eye of the regulatory storm.
Defunding Settlement Funds From Being Diverted to Third Party Groups by EPA and Department of Interior
Congressman Ken Buck: My amendment bars the EPA and Department of Interior and any of its agencies from requiring mandatory donations to third party groups as a part of any settlement agreements the agencies enter into.
In agencies across the government, settlement funds are being funneled to third party groups, contravening congressional budget authority.
A recent investigation by the House Judiciary and Financial Services Committees found as much as a half billion dollars had been diverted by the Department of Justice to third parties as a result of these settlements in the past year.
This is inexcusable. And it is not unique to the Department of Justice.
At the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife routinely sue and then enter into settlements with businesses and individuals â€” who then are forced to make donations to third party, radical environmentalist groups.
This is all made possible because community service is expressly allowed as a condition of probation by the United States Criminal Code. In addition, the United States Sentencing Guidelines allow community service where it is reasonably designed to repair the harm caused by the offense. This results in settlement funds being directed to supposed â€œcommunity serviceâ€ groups.
This is a practice that must be brought to an end. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, â€œto compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.â€
In this case, businesses and individuals are being sued by the government for violating environmental regulations, and then as part of the settlement, they have to make payments to environmental organizations that engage in advocacy supporting the regulations.
This power grab is abhorrent.
Please support my amendment to stop these agencies from funneling court settlement funds to radical environmentalists.
Official Time Amendment
Congressman Ken Buck: My amendment would prohibit paying any federal employee for the time spent not working for the taxpayers, but working for a third party, a labor union. This practice is known as â€œofficial time.â€
Unlike any other type of third party organization, labor unions have been granted the privilege of being able to have taxpayer funded employees do their business, on duty time, instead of doing the taxpayersâ€™ work.
This is outrageous.
Like any other type of private entity, labor unions should pay for their own employees to work for them. The taxpayers should not be picking up the tab for this practice.
According to the U.S. Office Personnel Management, this practice costs taxpayers approximately $156 million per year. Thatâ€™s assuming that the agencies are correctly reporting the amounts spent and there have been indications that this number actually under reports the total cost.
In some instances we are not talking about just a few minutes here and there for an agency employee who is a union official to confer with management about a workplace issue - sometimes the agency employee is actually working full-time for the labor union, all the while being paid by the taxpayers for this union work.
For instance, the IRS has more than 200 employees working full-time for labor unions. The Veterans Administration has over 250 employees working full-time for labor unions â€“ this at a time when there is a significant backlog of cases to be processed. One of these employees doesnâ€™t even work in a VA facility, but instead works remotely from a private union office in D.C. Imagine the dent that could be put in the case backlog if those 250 employees were working for Veterans instead of the union.
The EPA, while not having as many personnel on full-time official time as some agencies still pays over $1.6 million just for those personnel who are working full-time for their union.
Some agencies, such as the Department of Transportation have numerous employees making over $170,000 per year while working full-time for the union. This is more than almost all federal employees make, higher than the salaries of many Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretaries.
My amendment would not prohibit this practice, but would make certain that the right party pays for this work, the labor union.
Itâ€™s not right to force our taxpayers to pay the bill to subsidize these private organizations any more than it would be right to force them to subsidize other private organizations such as the National Rifle Association or the Sierra Club.
Like any business, labor unions should pay the costs for their own employees, not taxpayers.
Rep. Ken Buck (CO-04) is the Freshman Class President. He serves on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He serves on the OGR Subcommittees on Government Operations and the Interior and is a member of the Judiciary Subcommittees on Immigration and Border Security and Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.