As Farm BIll Fails in the House, Berg Still Silent on Heitkamp’s Challenge to Farm Bill Debate
Republican Running to Replace Berg Agrees to Six Debates, But Berg Still Stuck on Two
MANDAN, N.D. – Even as the drumbeat of national stories puts more nails in the coffin for the House Farm Bill, Rep. Rick Berg continues to run from U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp’s challenge to debate Berg on the Farm Bill and ag issues. It has been one week since Heitkamp challenged Berg to a debate on Ag issues.
“If Kevin Cramer can agree to six debates, what is Rick Berg afraid of?” said Tessa Gould, campaign manager for Heidi Heitkamp. “North Dakotans deserve a serious discussion and debate about the choice between Heidi’s vision to put the partisan gridlock aside and do what’s best for North Dakota, and Rep. Berg’s decision to vote the party line, even when it means slashing billions from crop insurance.”
According to the Fargo Forum:
“Debates are among the best venues for voters to see candidates up close and unrehearsed. If the debate formats are real debates, all the better for voters. Berg in particular has been reluctant to sign on for more than two debates with his opponent, while Heitkamp has urged the two get onto the debate stage more often. All candidates should take a lesson from North Dakota Republican U.S. House candidate Kevin Cramer, who last week said he accepts every debate invitation he receives because, he said, debates get more voters involved in the campaigns. He’s got it right.” [Fargo Forum,7/22/12]
The Fargo Forum had previously noted Kevin Cramer’s willingness to debate:
“Gulleson and Cramer are in agreement on six events so far….Neither Gulleson nor Cramer has yet challenged the other to debate, marking a stark contrast in comparison to North Dakota’s U.S. Senate race, where the issue of debates has become a pawn in political gamesmanship. (Democrat Heidi Heitkamp wants seven debates but Republican Rep. Rick Berg has only confirmed his participation in two so far.) Instead, Gulleson and Cramer are in agreement that they welcome as many opportunities as possible to face their opponent in a fair venue.” [Fargo Forum, 7/19/12]
Politico, meanwhile, continues to report that the House Farm bill will help southern producers at the expense of states like North Dakota:
“Southern rice, peanut and wheat producers stand to do far better under the House approach, but the two bills appear to lunge in opposite regional directions. Corn and soybean growers can almost lock in profits in the early years of the Senate plan. At the same time, the House cotton package costs nearly 20 percent more than what was already viewed as a rich Senate deal…The 13 Southern states are the backbone of the House GOP’s majority, contributing 102 votes or more than 40 percent of the conference.” [Politico, 7/23/12]
Meanwhile, as recently as yesterday, house majority whip Kevin McCarthy said he had no plan to bring the House Farm Bill to the floor. Earlier, The Hill reported that House Speaker John Boehner may block the bill from even coming up for a vote:
“Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) history with farm bills and with his GOP freshman class indicate that this year’s measure is headed nowhere fast…’Boehner hates the farm bill,’ one lobbyist said. ‘Every time he has had the choice to bring up a bipartisan bill and face a large defection, he has decided not to. I don’t see him risking embarrassment for a farm bill.’ … On top of his personal distaste for farm subsidies, the Speaker is unlikely to act on an expensive bill that could fracture his conference so close to the election.”
Today, as a director of the Dakota Gasification synfuels plant, she’s a champion for North Dakota’s energy industry. Heidi believes we need to use all of North Dakota’s rich energy resources wisely, creating and keeping high-paying jobs right here. Heidi says it’s time to put country first, put politics aside and work together to cut government spending, balance the budget, create jobs and get our economy back on track—while protecting North Dakotans.
Heidi lives in Mandan with her husband, Dr. Darwin Lange, a family practitioner. They have two grown children, Ali and Nathan.
-30-Back to top