Republican Tom Cotton’s rock-ribbed record of voting against federal spending of all sorts presented a ripe target of opportunity today for the Mark Pryor campaign, which was quick to note his hypocrisy.
Cotton joined the Arkansas congressional delegation in announcing aid for flood-damaged farmers and ranchers.
Problem: Tom Cotton voted against the legislation that authorized the aid.
Said the Pryor campaign:
This afternoon, Arkansas’ congressional delegation announced a disaster declarations for 23 counties impacted by recent flooding, which makes recovery funds available to farmers and ranchers through USDA programs contained within the 2014 Farm Bill.
Despite the fact that Rep. Tom Cotton voted against the Farm Bill, without which these dollars would not exist, his office issued a statement from Cotton touting the declaration, saying he’ll work “to make sure farmers are able to access the emergency funds they need.”
“It takes a special kind of arrogance for Congressman Cotton to take credit for disaster relief funds that he consistently and recklessly opposed,” said Erik Dorey, Pryor for Senate spokesperson. “If Congressman Cotton wants credit for disaster recovery programs he voted against, he first needs to admit he was wrong when he opposed the Farm Bill and apologize to Arkansas’s farmers and ranchers for siding with his out-of-state billionaire buddies against our state’s rural economy.”
I’ve asked the Cotton campaign for a response.
BACKGROUND FROM PRYOR CAMPAIGN:
Cotton Touted Agriculture Disaster Relief That Was Included In The Farm Bill He Voted Against. On July 23, 2014, Cotton announced disaster declaration for farmers and ranchers. “U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman, along with Congressmen Rick Crawford (AR-1), Tim Griffin (AR-2), Steve Womack (AR-3), and Tom Cotton (AR-4) today announced that 23 Arkansas counties have been designated as disaster areas, allowing farmers and ranchers to receive assistance to recover from losses caused by severe weather in the state. In June, east Arkansas was ravaged by flash flooding, which devastated thousands of acres of crops and pastures.” Cotton said, “I appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s quick approval of Governor Beebe’s disaster declaration request for the 23 impacted counties. I have heard from many farmers about the impact of the recent flooding, and I look forward to working with our friends in Arkansas to make sure farmers are able to access the emergency funds they need.” [Arkansas Matters, 7/23/14]
Farm Bill Included Emergency Loan Program That Helped Farmers Recover From Drought And Flooding. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the 2014 Farm Bill included the Emergency Loan Program, which “producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding, other natural disasters, or quarantine.” [FSA, 7/3/14]
Farm Bill Included Disaster Set-Aside Program For Farmers affected By Natural Disasters. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the 2014 Farm Bill included, “When Farm Service Agency (FSA) borrowers located in designated disaster areas or contiguous (adjoining) counties are unable to make their scheduled payment on any FSA debt, FSA is authorized to consider set-aside of one payment to allow the operation to continue. This program is authorized under Section 331A of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act.” [USDA, October 2011]
COTTON VOTED AGAINST THE FARM BILL. TWICE.
Cotton Was the Only Member Of the Arkansas Delegation To Vote Against The Farm Bill. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “The $100 billion-a-year farm bill passed the House 251 to 166 Wednesday after months of discussions and uncertainty. U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton was the only member of Arkansas’ all-Republican House delegation to vote against the legislation. U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin and Steve Womack, who voted for the measure, each said the bill is not perfect but it provides stability to the country’s farmers.” [Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 1/30/14; H.R. 2642, Vote 31, 1/29/14]
Yet Again, Cotton Was The Only Member Of The Arkansas Delegation To Vote Against The Farm Bill. In June 2013, Tom Cotton was the only member of the Arkansas Delegation to vote against the five-year farm bill. The Associated Press reported the bill was “a five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill Thursday that would have cut $2 billion annually from food stamps and let states impose broad new work requirements on those who receive them.” According to the Washington Post, “The agriculture sector stands to suffer the most from the bill’s failure. Without action later this year, American farmers will fall back to a 1949 law governing the industry, which could lead to steep price increases on items such as milk. The Senate passed its version of a longer term farm billearlier this month on a bipartisan vote of 66 to 27. The measure calls for spending $24 billion less than current law by ending programs such as a $5 billion direct cash subsidy program for absentee farmers. The House plan would have resulted in nearly $40 billion in savings, in large part by slashing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, widely known as food stamps.” Senators Pryor and Boozman, and Representatives Crawford, Womack, and Griffin voted for the bill. [AP, 6/21/13; Washington Post, 6/21/13; HR 3102, House Vote 286, 6/20/13; S. 954, Senate Vote 145, 6/10/13]