As you read this article in May, the United States House of Representatives will have only 54 days left to conduct business until the November election. That’s right. Over the course of the next six months, Congress will only be conducting legislative business during 54 of the possible 185 days before the next election. While Western Growers is working on many different fronts, with respect to Congress the clock is ticking louder and louder. As the clock winds down, Western Growers plans to push everyday to help our industry succeed.
What will we be pushing with the time we have left in Congress this year? There is a window this summer during which the House of Representatives can bring forward immigration reform. No doubt, each of you has been reading in the press how slow the progress has been in the House on immigration reform. While it is slow going, we believe there is an opening for reform after Memorial Day to push legislation forward. Having a secure, stable and legal work force for our industry cannot be put off another year — no excuses from politicians. Each of you need reform and we needed that reform yesterday, so Western Growers is pushing and prodding. We plan to use any opening to achieve our goal. Not only is reform necessary now, but with a Presidential election year in 2016, we are concerned about how those dynamics might influence voting behavior on Congress. We have already helped pass a Senate immigration reform bill this Congress, so we don’t want to start over after the November election under uncertain circumstances. That means that we are pushing as hard as we can — pushing like we did last year when the Senate bill passed — and we will keep doing so until the clock stops ticking.
The clock is also ticking on legislation that can help those in the Central Valley in need of water. Obviously no piece of legislation can make it rain, but federal legislation could provide some certainty and relief to growers in the San Joaquin Valley when there is moisture. Western Growers is pushing forward legislation and would like the House and Senate to move a bill soon because we know the clock is running out. While California has the most House members of any state, in the Senate, the state only has two Senators and thus California needs lots of help in passing any bill. Fortunately, our San Joaquin Valley growers do not stand alone. Western Grower members in Arizona have reached out time and again to push their members of Congress to support legislation that can help their friends and neighbors in California. Our members in Nevada are also engaged and have asked their Congressional representatives to support drought help as well. The clock is ticking, but we keep pushing to secure legislation that can help.
Congress is only working another 50 days or so, and many might ask what can be accomplished in such a short time frame. At Western Growers, the answer is we plan to accomplish a lot. Every day we push on immigration. Every day we push in Washington on moving legislation to help with the drought. In late May, the Western Growers Board of Directors is coming to Washington and we will push again and again on those two issues. I also know when growers see their representatives back home they will push them in person; they will push them during Easter recess, push during Memorial Day recess, prod during Fourth of July break, and so on. The clock is ticking on this year’s Congress, but we can still get things done if we are all pushing in the same direction.
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