A Washington Filled with High Drama and Palace Intrigue

Brooke S. Appleton

Apr 18, 2024  |  Today's News |  ICGA |  Legislation & Regulation

Plots have thickened. Majorities have shrunk. The knives are out. It’s April in Washington but you would be forgiven for thinking it’s the Ides of March.

Much like Julius Caesar, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is fighting to survive the many political plots against him. In the speaker’s case, the daggers are metaphorical but no less threatening to the established order.

As of this writing, there are reports that momentum is growing to oust the speaker because he promised to consider legislation containing military aid for Israel and Ukraine, a move prompted by Iran’s recent missile and drone attacks on the Jewish state, a key American ally.

Speaker Johnson, like his predecessor Kevin McCarthy, has struggled to maintain control over a divided GOP House with a narrow majority. The resignations in late March of Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.)  have shrunk that majority even more and made the speaker’s job many times harder.

Speaker Johnson has essentially been given a rigged Rubik’s cube. No matter how hard he tries, the colors will never line up.

In the midst of this palace intrigue, lay many pieces of legislation that are important to farmers and rural America. We still have a farm bill that is awaiting reauthorization. We have crucial legislation that would provide consumers with access to higher blends of ethanol and pressing trade issues that need to be addressed.

I talked in my last column about the work we are doing in Washington to keep these priorities on track through meetings with policymakers, public relations campaigns, etc. But if we are going to make an impact this year, we are going to have to do so on the ground level. After all, all politics are local.

We need our farmers to continue to beat the drum at town hall meetings and through letters to Congress, encouraging action on our key priorities. (If you have not done so, please sign up for action alerts by texting “COB” to 52886.)

I have written in the past about some of the issues that drive divisions in Washington, including the fact that policymakers are spending less time in the city building relationships and the growing distaste across the country for bipartisanship. But bipartisanship has delivered over and over again for the American farmer.

While many of the issues plaguing Washington are beyond our control, our farmers can work this election year to ensure that the people they send to Washington come here to work for them and not just to promote their own parochial interests.

Farmers can also show up at campaign events and speak up about issues of importance to the agricultural community. Campaign rallies and meet and greets are perfect venues for talking about everything from the farm bill to the Next Generation Fuels Act. But above all, we should take these opportunities to tell candidates that we want to see action on our issues.

Politics have been brutal since the dawn of time, no less evidenced by the demise of Julius Caesar. But I still have hope because there is one thing we have that Rome lacked: The American farmer.

Et tu, America?

Appleton is the vice president of public policy at the National Corn Growers Association.