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National Review Online: Restore the Founders’ Patent System
By Bob Goodlatte & Mike Lee
Throughout American history, innovation has been central to our economy and our quality of life. American inventions, whether in medicine, travel, or communications, have benefited the world and played no small part in the advancement of our modern society.
Since the beginning of the industrial economy, the protection of intellectual property has been key to spurring this innovation. Inventors and researchers invest significant time and effort in their work at least in part because of the expectation that their labor will be rewarded.
The Founding Fathers knew well the value of intellectual property and its role in encouraging innovation. Article I, section 8, clause 8 of the Constitution provides for a national system of intellectual-property protection and charges Congress with running the system to “promote the progress of science and useful arts.”
As members of Congress sworn to support and defend the Constitution, we take that charge seriously. And so it is with real concern that we have viewed recent abuses of the patent system that turn the value of intellectual property on its head and threaten the system of American innovation.
With troubling and increasing frequency, bad actors leverage the complexity of our patent laws to extort illegitimate fees from unsuspecting businesses. Start-ups and small businesses that do not have large litigation budgets are hit particularly hard by this devious practice.
Of course, large companies and retailers are also negatively affected. Confronted with meritless litigation, these businesses must choose between doling out large payments to settle a frivolous case or paying significant lawyers’ fees to fight back. These unnecessary costs mean American consumers pay more for the products they buy.
No one disputes the value of intellectual property. But the recent abuses we have seen do not protect legitimate intellectual-property rights or the interests of inventors. Instead, they serve only to enrich opportunistic litigants or “patent trolls,” who have no interest in innovation or patents.
We have seen the terrible effects of patent trolls and how their fabricated claims of intellectual property can threaten hard-working American businesses. We have heard accounts of start-ups, small businesses, and companies in our home states of Virginia and Utah and across the United States that have been forced to shut down or reduce their businesses because of these abuses.
The success of the patent-troll model has only fueled more and more frivolous litigation. This cycle is an unnecessary strain on our nation’s innovators. Resources set aside for research and development are wasted on needless patent lawsuits and litigation expenses instead of the next life-improving or life-saving invention. Small businesses are closing up shop, innovators are afraid to chase their next idea, and businesses face ever-increasing costs for lawyers and unnecessary settlements.
We must put an end to abuse of the patent system and make the necessary changes to ensure that it serves its constitutional purpose: protecting innovators and their inventions.
For this reason, both houses of Congress are working hard to pass legislation that will reduce the harmful effects of patent trolls and restore the central role of innovation in our patent system.
In the House, the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Representative Goodlatte, recently reported the Innovation Act, H.R. 3309. This legislation includes commonsense changes to make the patent-litigation process more transparent, as well as necessary reforms to ensure that patent owners provide necessary information in court pleadings, so that businesses can know the basis on which they are being sued. The bill also requires courts to determine the merits of a patent earlier in the case to avoid costly litigation on invalid patents, and requires those who file frivolous patent claims to pay the attorneys’ fees of the business or individual they have needlessly sued.
In the Senate, Senator Lee has joined with Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy to introduce legislation that would increase transparency in patent ownership, prevent the widespread sending of frivolous demand letters that threaten businesses with meritless lawsuits, and (like the House bill) protect customers from frivolous patent lawsuits that should properly be brought against the manufacturer instead. Other Republican members of the Judiciary Committee have likewise introduced important legislation to require litigants to provide necessary information in court pleadings, to reform the process by which courts conduct discovery in patent litigation, and to require patent trolls to pay lawyers’ fees.
These legislative proposals are targeted at practices within our patent system that inhibit innovation. For our system of intellectual property to function properly in the long run, we must enact reforms to stop abuse of that system and restore the value patents add to our economy.
— Representative Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) serves as ranking member on the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
News Virginian: Goodlatte to convene hearing on presidential responsibility
December 3, 2013
Sixth District Rep. Bob Goodlatte said a House Judiciary Committee hearing he is convening this morning is to provide the necessary checks and balances and congressional oversight on President Obama's exercise of executive power.
The congressman, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the hearing will examine whether the president is following his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws. Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, said he has seen repeated instances of executive orders and other exercises without congressional approval.
"The respect for the rule of law is the foundation of any free people,'' said Goodlatte, who said he hopes the executive branch will listen to the testimony offered today.
Goodlatte and two of the witnesses at today's hearing, each say the president has repeatedly violated his constitutional responsibilities.
In a press release announcing today's hearing, Goodlatte said the hearing would focus on Obamacare, including the employer mandate delay, the waiver for non-compliant health plans, and the contraceptive mandate that Goodlatte says violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Goodlatte said the hearing will also address the president's decision to ignore enforcing immigration and federal drug laws.
"President Obama has blatantly disregarded the Constitution's mandate to faithfully execute the laws,'' Goodaltte said in a statement. "He has changed key provisions in Obamacare without congressional approval, failed to enforce our immigration and drug laws, and ignored his constitutional duties for the sake of politics."
Goodlatte said he anticipates a "spirited debate'' among Judiciary Committee members and witnesses today about whether America's system of checks and balances is working. "The White House and president seem more and more dedicated to circumventing Congress,'' he said.
Several legal scholars will testify at today's hearing, including George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley.
Turley said he would testify that the president has "exceeded his authority in a variety of areas, including immigration and health care by circumventing Congress. The non enforcement of key provisions of these federal statutes is a direct challenge to the separation of powers underlying our constitutional system. While I may agree with many of his policies, I do not see the president's authority in taking such unilateral action. Indeed, it represents a dangerous assertion of presidential power in my view."
Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies for the Cato Institute, will offer a lengthy statement about Obama's failure to execute the Affordable Care Act properly. Cannon said the president has attempted to impose billions in taxes and spending in violation of the law. Cannon said in his statement that his objections are not partisan.
"The president's failure -- or any president's failure -- to honor his constitutional duty to execute the laws faithfully is not a partisan issue," Cannon said.
The White House Press Office was contacted for a response to the hearing, but did not provide one.
WSLS: Goodlatte doubtful over Iranian nuclear deal
November 25, 2013
A local congressman joins others on both sides of the political aisle, in questioning the Iran nuclear deal announced over the weekend.
The deal offers Iran some relief from economic sanctions and the ability to keep some of its nuclear program in exchange for not increasing its nuclear capabilities and allowing international inspections.
I spoke with Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte today who says he believes the deal is not in the best interest of the USA, saying the democrat-brokered deal doesn't provide for enough verification.
“I am very concerned about the fact that Iran, which has shown a determination to build nuclear weapons for a long time, needs two things -- money and time and they get both things with this deal. And we do not get a full verification process where we can go to any facility anywhere in Iran where we suspect there is nuclear enrichment bomb making activity taking place. And instead, what we wind up with is a situation where we have to trust them some anyway. I agree with the Prime Minister of Israel who called this a historic mistake,” said Goodlatte.
The agreement, which was reached Sunday night, is popular in Iran, but not in Israel, where the prime minister has been highly critical and says the deal does not go far enough to disarm Iran's military nuclear capability.
News Leader: Goodlatte: Entitlement reform needed for fiscal balance
By Calvin Trice
November 8, 2013
HARRISONBURG — Federal lawmakers will have to reform entitlement programs if the government is going to bring spending and deficits under control in the long run, U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte told members of a local chamber of commerce.
The across-the-board sequestration cuts that set in automatically this year have slowed the growth of the federal debt, but that effect will only be temporary, Goodlatte told the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
Sequester cuts only affect about 30 percent of the federal budget that funds discretionary items like defense, parks and education. The other 70 percent that includes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, disability payments and other programs that pay out to everyone who qualifies for benefits must be reformed to bring the budget under control, Goodlatte said.
“They’re growing at an average about four times the rate of inflation, and that is a serious problem,” he said.
A January tax increase and the spring sequestration leveled off the deficit growth, but because those changes don’t affect growing entitlement spending, overall deficit growth will resume within a couple of years, Goodlatte said.
Making the fiscal problem worse is the recent decline in the size of the nation’s workforce, meaning fewer workers contribute payroll taxes to support entitlement programs for older Americans.
“With so many people going onto those different programs, and the cost of those programs growing at four times the rate of inflation … fewer and fewer people working cannot sustain that,” Goodlatte said.
Washington’s budget challenges highlights the fact that federal health care reform has been passed at a time when the country can’t afford it, Goodlatte said. The technical problems people have encountered trying to sign up under the Affordable Care Act represent just the surface of what’s wrong with the legislation often referred to as Obamacare, he said.
“Those things are in my opinion serious problems, and they need to be addressed, but they only mask the underlying problem here which is that this is another program that we simply cannot afford given the fact that we’re doing nothing to reform the already-existing programs,” he said.
Lawmakers must reduce federal spending with entitlement reform, he said, then make a habit of balancing the budget, a cause for which Goodlatte has championed with a proposal to amend the Constitution.
Goodlatte spoke for about a half hour at the chamber gathering of about 40 people, then fielded questions for another 30 minutes for responses that covered budgeting and immigration reform, a topic at or near the top of the House Judiciary Committee that he chairs.
News Virginian: Goodlatte says entitlement reform a must
By Bob Stuart
November 8, 2013
HARRISONBURG -- Sixth District Rep. Bob Goodlatte said Thursday that the $17 trillion federal deficit and future federal spending won't be improved without across-the-board reform of entitlement programs.
Those 70 mandatory spending programs include Social Security, Medicare and others such as Medicaid and SNAP. "Those programs are growing four times the rate of inflation,'' the congressman told members of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce.
While federal sequestration and tax increases are helping cut the federal deficit in the short term, Goodlatte said the expected increases in entitlement spending are not sustainable over the next several years.
Goodlatte said next year alone, Medicare will cost $600 billion and serve 50 million Americans. And there is the newest entitlement program -- the federal Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. "This is another program we can't afford,'' Goodlatte said.
The recent problems with the health care program's website and the program's management by U.S. Health and Human Services "are serious problems. They (the problems) must be addressed,'' Goodlatte said.
The congressman said it is past due time for members of the U.S. Senate and House to come together and look at entitlement reform. He said the U.S. House budgets the past three years have included such reform.
"Each of the 70 programs should be reformed on their own merits,'' Goodlatte said. The reforms could include means testing for eligibility.
"I hope the Senate will put out their ideas for reforming,'' the congressman said. "If you don't like our ideas, put your ideas on the table and let's sit down and negotiate."
The expansion of the Medicaid program has been left to individual states. Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe wants to expand the program. He has said the expansion will create jobs, and it is estimated the expansion would reach another 400,000 Virginia residents. But Goodlatte said the federal government lacks the money to cover a larger Medicaid program.
"We don't have the money. The money won't be there to pay for it,'' he said.
And while Tuesday's statewide elections did not go well for Republicans, Goodlatte said it is important for the Republican Party to continue to stick to the philosophy of limited government and individual responsibility, and to encourage private sector development.
The Hill: House Judiciary chairman calls for 'further protections' from NSA
By Brendan Sasso
September 18, 2013
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said on Wednesday that he plans to push legislation to rein in the National Security Agency.
In a statement following a classified briefing with senior intelligence officials, Goodlatte said he is "convinced that further protections are necessary."
"I am committed to working with members of the House Judiciary Committee, House leaders, and other members of Congress to ensure our nation’s intelligence collection programs include robust oversight, additional transparency, and protections for Americans’ civil liberties while maintaining a workable legal framework for national security officials to keep our country safe from foreign enemies," Goodlatte said.
The classified committee hearing included testimony from James Cole, the deputy attorney general; Robert Litt, the general counsel for the Director of National Intelligence; John Inglis, the deputy director of the National Security Agency; and Andrew McCabe, the FBI's assistant director of counter terrorism.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has introduced legislation that would end the agency's bulk collection of records on all U.S. phone calls.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the original author of the Patriot Act, is also working on legislation to limit the phone data collection and increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
News Virginian: Goodlatte hears about challenges for small business
By Bob Stuart
September 4, 2013
Chris Runion is president of Eddie Edwards Signs, a Harrisonburg commercial sign company that does business in the Shenandoah Valley and five states.
His company has grown to 29 employees, and he has invested in expensive digital printing equipment to improve the manufacturing he needs to compete against other sign companies.
But on Wednesday, Runion and other Shenandoah Valley businessmen were focused on talking to 6th District Rep. Bob Goodlatte about some of the challenges making it complicated for their companies to turn a profit.
Runion said the new federal health care law has increased his employees' insurance premiums 14 to 20 percent. Others in attendance at Eddie Edwards Signs on Wednesday spoke of how the federal government tries to compete with private industry and has an unfair advantage.
Goodlatte agreed. He recalled how the federal government had considered a free language software program similar to that of the Shenandoah Valley's Rosetta Stone. And he said the Internal Revenue Service is now looking at a software program that would allow taxpayers to do their taxes instead of consulting with a business.
"It's a waste of taxpayer money and offers an unfair advantage,'' Goodlatte said of the now dormant effort of the government to offer a language program.
As for the federal health care law, Goodlatte said efforts continue in the U.S. House to defund the program. "I'm not averse to getting rid of this horrible law,'' he said.
The congressman spoke of less government and less regulation. His message resonated with Runion. "Government needs to get out of the way and give us an opportunity,'' Runion said.
Goodlatte told the businessmen to consider certain steps in their battle against the government. He said lawsuits can curb the power of government. He also urged the businessmen to back political candidates who understand how small business operates. "Small business is where the jobs are created,'' Goodlatte said.
And while repealing a law is difficult, Goodlatte said it is important for Congress to pass laws that better structure the way laws are written.
He spoke of the cumbersome nature of the federal health care law. The law creates 158 agencies and programs and 20,000 pages of regulation.
Prior to his roundtable discussion with the small businessmen, Goodlatte took a National Federation of Independent Business challenge at Eddie Edwards Signs. He toured the company and helped make a sign.
Runion said business is strong for his company now.
But he fears that the increasing cost of health care will limit the future options for his business. "I want the chance to make my customers satisfied,'' he said. He said accomplishing that goal becomes harder if he lacks the future dollars to invest in equipment and employee training.
WHSV:Goodlatte Discusses Possible Actions Against Syria
September 4, 2013
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- In a 10-7 vote Wednesday, a Senate resolution would permit President Obama to order a limited military mission against Syria, as long as it doesn't exceed 90 days and involves no American troops on the ground.
A lot of passionate protests nationally have people both for and against action in Syria.
Meanwhile, Syrian refugees pile into camps to escape the violence.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte was at an event put on by the National Federation of Independent Business to talk about his plans for the embattled country.
He took a tour of Eddie Edwards Signs, a small business here in the valley.
Goodlatte also participated in a discussion about their concerns.
One of his concerns next week will be his stance on a possible military strike on Syria.
He has some skepticism and lots of questions.
"Congress, and I in particularly, and many other members of Congress have lots of questions that are not answered about will be the ramifications of this. How will this work out? How will we extract ourselves? Will we be able to stop them from using chemical weapons in the future by a limited action that we might take?" said Goodlatte.
Goodlatte said although he's skeptical about a military strike, he will not make a decision for or against it until he hears from all sides, including President Obama next week.
He said so far many of his constituents are against a military strike in Syria.
WDBJ7: Google's self-driving car rolls on the Smart Road
By Joe Dashiell
September 3, 2013
BLACKSBURG, Va. - There were no hands on the wheel and two congressmen in the back seat, when Google's self-driving car hit the Smart Road Tuesday afternoon.
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The Google car made a couple of passes for the cameras, but it has been in Blacksburg for weeks, taking part in a study at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Researchers are assessing how people interact with the systems used in automated cars, and the congressmen stopped by for a closer look.
"When people see this car with the spinning top on the road, and they'll see it more and more," said 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte, "they'll know that great technology is being developed for their future safety."
9th District Congressman Morgan Griffith agreed. "I just think it's great to see technology here in southwest Virginia showing the world that we are a player when it comes to major new innovations in technology," he said.
With GPS and other sensors spinning on the roof, Google's self-driving cars have now traveled over 500-thousand miles during testing.
The Hill: Judiciary chairman slams new ICE policy on parental rights
By Russell Berman
August 24, 2013
The Obama administration on Friday announced a policy directive aimed at reducing the disruption to families during the deportation process, drawing praise from advocates for children and criticism from a senior House Republican.
The directive from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency would make it easier for parents to visit a child in a detention center and to participate in person or via video conference in deportation hearings. It would also give enforcement agents more leeway to take family considerations into account when making deportation decisions, and it would allow, in some cases, for a deported parent to return to the U.S. to attend a hearing for a child.
“ICE personnel should ensure that the agency’s immigration enforcement activities do not unnecessarily disrupt the parental rights of both alien parents or legal guardians of minor children,” the directive stated.
The move comes as the administration is pressuring the Republican-led House to take up comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The legislation that passed the Senate includes an expanded version of family reunification provisions, but House GOP leaders have vowed not to bring it for a vote.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, denounced the ICE directive, saying it “poisons the debate surrounding immigration reform and shows that the administration is not serious about fixing our broken immigration system.”
“President Obama has once again abused his authority and unilaterally refused to enforce our current immigration laws by directing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to stop removing broad categories of unlawful immigrants,” Goodlatte said in a statement. “The primary reason why our immigration system is broken today is because our immigration laws have largely been ignored by past and present administrations. It’s imperative that we prevent this from happening again by taking away the enforcement ‘on/off’ switch from the president.”
The Judiciary Committee in June approved the Safe Act, which seeks to limit the authority of the administration to ignore enforcement of immigration laws and gives states and localities more power to enforce the laws on their own.
The decision from ICE drew praise from the First Focus Campaign for Children, an advocacy group.
“The Family Interest Directive is a major victory for children, reducing the likelihood that immigration enforcement will tear families apart and reducing the harm to kids when separation is unavoidable,” said Bruce Lesley, the organization’s president. “But only Congress can give these critical reforms the force and permanence of law and deliver the other protections children need.”
Daily Caller: Goodlatte slams Obama administration’s asylum loophole, presses DHS for answers
By Caroline May
August 22, 2013
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte is pointing the finger of blame for the recent surge in asylum seekers at the Obama administration.
Since FY 2009, “credible fear” asylum requests, largely from Mexico, have quadrupled from 5,369 to 19,119 through May of FY 2013 — and if current trends persist, 28,679 total requests for FY 2013, or a 434 percent increase over five years, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
According to the Virginia Republican, the increase in “credible fear” requests correlate with the Obama administrations’ policy, instituted in 2010, of prematurely releasing asylum seekers — a policy Goodlatte explained runs contrary to immigration law.
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“According to the most recent data available, DHS is permitting 92% of these claimants to move forward to further proceedings, despite the fact that press reports indicate that up to 91% of these claimants from Mexico are ultimately denied,” Goodlatte wrote Wednesday in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
“In addition, most are likely being released into the U.S. pending further proceedings before Immigration Judges as opposed to being detained as required by law,” he added. “I am concerned that credible fear claims are being exploited by illegal immigrants in order to enter and remain in the United States.”
Goodlatte noted that according to recent press reports many of the asylum claims are fake and the result of coaching.
“The aliens allegedly claim that they have a credible fear of return to Mexico based on drug cartel and gang violence. According to critics, asylum claims from Mexico are highly unusual and often are an orchestrated sham,” He wrote.
ABC News 10 reported earlier this month that there is a $300 video available for purchase in Mexico as well as instructional classes that teach immigrants what to say, using “key words and phrases,” to be allowed entry to the United States.
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“Not only is the rise in credible fear claims concerning, but I am concerned with the inability of the Administration to follow the current law that pertains to the asylum process. Pursuant to §235(b)(1)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), arriving aliens are subject to mandatory detention whether they are found to have credible fear or not,” Goodlatte wrote, noting that on December 9, 2010 former ICE Director John Morton issued a policy directive allowing arriving aliens that have “been found to have a credible fear and can establish identity, that they are not a flight risk, or a danger to the community” to be released.
“And not surprisingly, the timing of this memo appears to correlate with the uptick of credible fear claims in recent years. Additionally, while ICE is not detaining these aliens, Fiscal Year 2012 Executive Office of Immigration Review statistics demonstrate that 29% of released aliens failed to appear for their immigration court proceedings,” he continued.
Goodlatte concluded his letter said that his committee will be conducting oversight on the matter in as it proceeds with the House’s step-by-step approach to comprehensive immigration reform and requested a briefing on the matter with the Department of Homeland Security.
Illegal immigrants claiming asylum have overwhelmed processing centers on the Southern border. Harried ICE agents bought $99-a-night hotel rooms earlier in August for the immigrants before releasing them into major cities.
The Hill: Dairy supply management bad for consumers
By Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and David Scott (D-Ga.)
June 18, 2013
Plain and simple — the farm bill should not be used as an avenue to increase dairy prices and distort the dairy market. As the House prepares to consider the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act — also known as the farm bill — a new dairy supply management program included in the legislation threatens to push dairy prices higher.
The farm bill being brought to the House floor contains a program called the Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP) that will manipulate and control the supply of milk produced and sold in the United States. This will result in a spike in milk prices and the cost of dairy products like cheese, yogurt and ice cream. As dairy prices are artificially inflated, consumers will be faced with the dilemma of either taking the hit of these high prices or simply avoiding the dairy aisle in the grocery store altogether.
The Consumers Union, Consumers Federation of America, Consumer Action and National Consumers League all oppose the dairy supply management program in the farm bill because it would “increase milk and dairy product prices for consumers.” Increased dairy prices mean that families will be forced to stretch their food budgets further.
In essence, the dairy program passes the bulk of its costs down to the consumer, harming the public economically as well as nutritionally. The federal government purchases 20 percent of domestic milk production for use in anti-hunger programs. If the price of milk goes up due to effects of the program, so will the cost of our nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and the National School Lunch Program. Professor Scott Brown with the University of Missouri recently released a report that showed that under Dairy Market Stabilization Program, monthly milk price spikes could raise school milk costs by more than $13 million for just one month! Our local school districts, families on budgets and taxpayers cannot afford to absorb these increased costs.
It is clear that supply management is bad for consumers.
During the farm bill debate, we will offer an amendment to provide dairy farmers with a viable safety net that does not prop up the price of milk. This amendment strikes the DMSP that limits supply, controls industry growth and meddles in the free market. The reforms in the Goodlatte-Scott amendment will give farmers the necessary tools to manage their risk without requiring them to participate in yet another government program. Our amendment will protect dairy farmers, but also lower costs for families and businesses, as well as keeping nutritional programs viable for those in need.
While the farm bill addresses reforms for numerous facets of our agriculture policy, it fails to adequately reform our country’s dairy program. We can help dairy farmers by providing risk management tools, such as the Dairy Producer Margin Protection Plan included in the Goodlatte-Scott amendment, which would provide help in tough times without negative dairy market consequences.
As we mark National Dairy Month in June, there is no time like the present to reject the Dairy Market Stabilization Program and embrace dairy policies that will keep dairy products affordable for the American people. The Goodlatte-Scott amendment to the farm bill will help dairy producers without forcing the consumer to pick up the bill.
Goodlatte and Scott are members of the House Committee on Agriculture.
Washington Times: GOODLATTE: No command and control for the cows
By Rep. Bob Goodlatte
June 18, 2013
The House is expected to consider this week the reauthorization of the farm bill, a multiyear plan for the future of American farming. While much of the media coverage of the debate in the Senate centered on nutrition programs, an important battle is brewing in the House regarding dairy policy.
As the House Agriculture Committee debated dairy policy, Chairman Frank D. Lucas, Oklahoma Republican, worked with the entire dairy community to eliminate ineffective dairy programs and consolidate them into a margin insurance program that provides an important support backstop for American dairy farmers.
This approach reduces federal bureaucracy by eliminating four current programs — the Dairy Product Price Support Program, the Milk Income Loss Contract Program, the Dairy Export Incentive Program, and the Federal Milk Marketing Order Review Commission — and moves the dairy program to a margin insurance program. These are good reforms and should be embraced as a concrete step toward modernizing the dairy safety net.
Where the true dairy debate begins, however, is over another provision in the farm bill — the Dairy Market Stabilization Program. It is a supply-management program that will directly intervene in markets and increase milk prices, ultimately costing Americans more money at the grocery store and forcing businesses to raise their prices. This program thrusts government directly into private commercial transactions, and will unnecessarily increase prices that families pay for products such as milk, yogurt and cheese. Simply put, the program is designed to keep milk at artificially high prices, unfairly hurting consumers and driving up the cost to run a business.
During floor consideration, I will offer an amendment with my Democratic colleague from Georgia, Rep. David Scott, to eliminate the Dairy Market Stabilization Program. Like the base text of the farm bill, the Goodlatte-Scott amendment will eliminate four current dairy programs and move dairy farmers into a margin insurance program, but does so without implementing the new federal supply-management program.
For members just now focusing on the upcoming dairy debate as a part of the farm bill reauthorization, I would note that there is one basic choice to be made on dairy policy. The question on the table will be: Do you support the creation of a new federal supply-management program that will control milk production for American farmers and raise the prices of dairy products, or not? Both the farm bill and the Goodlatte-Scott amendment make much-needed base reforms to existing dairy policy and move toward a margin insurance program. The only real difference between the two is whether or not you support market intervention.
Furthermore, the Congressional Budget Office has determined that implementing the program will cost more than moving forward with the Goodlatte-Scott amendment. With all of the great reforms made in the farm bill, why would the House support the creation of a new bureaucratic program to control the production of American dairy farmers, and at a greater cost than the alternative?
Let’s move away from 1930s-style command-and-control supply-management programs and toward a system that encourages the production of American dairy products for domestic and international distribution. I encourage my colleagues to support the Goodlatte-Scott amendment to the farm bill to eliminate the Dairy Market Stabilization Program and support dairy farmers and consumers.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, is a former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and currently chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Fox News: House Republicans challenge Holder testimony on reporter surveillance
May 29, 2013
Top Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee openly challenged Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday over his testimony two weeks ago in which he claimed to be unaware of any "potential prosecution" of the press, despite knowing about an investigation that targeted a Fox News reporter.
Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., R-Wis., voiced "great concern" in a letter to Holder. They asked a litany of questions about the department's dealings with the press, and pointedly alleged that the Fox News case "contradicts" his testimony at a May 15 hearing.
"It is imperative that the committee, the Congress, and the American people be provided a full and accurate account of your involvement," they wrote.
The letter comes a day after the committee confirmed it was looking into Holder's testimony. Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee on May 15, Holder insisted that "the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material" is not something he was involved in or knew about.
But days later, it emerged that the Justice Department obtained access to the emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen -- after filing an affidavit that accused him of being a likely criminal "co-conspirator" in the leak of sensitive material regarding North Korea. Rosen was never charged, and never prosecuted. But he was effectively accused of violating the federal Espionage Act.
"The media reports and statements issued by the Department regarding the search warrants for Mr. Rosen's emails appear to be at odds with your sworn testimony before the Committee," Goodlatte and Sensenbrenner wrote in the letter Wednesday. They did not accuse Holder of committing perjury, but noted he was "under oath."
Among other questions, they asked Holder how he could claim to have never heard of the potential prosecution of the press. And they asked him to clarify whether he "personally approved" the search warrant request. Sensenbrenner, in an interview on Fox News, threatened to subpoena Holder to come before the committee if necessary.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, though, said on Wednesday that it appears Holder testified truthfully. He said President Obama "absolutely" has confidence in him.
The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Michigan Rep. John Conyers, said he thinks Holder "was forthright and did not mislead the Committee."
"Certainly, there are policy disagreements as to how the First Amendment should apply to these series of leak investigations being conducted by the Justice Department, and that is and should be an area for the committee to consider. However, there is no need to turn a policy disagreement into allegations of misconduct," he said.
Holder could argue that, in fact, Rosen was never prosecuted -- and so his testimony was not misleading.
A federal law enforcement official said last week that the department had to establish probable cause in the affidavit in order to obtain the search warrant, per the terms of the Privacy Protection Act.
"Saying that there is probable cause to believe that someone has committed a crime and actually charging the person with that crime are two very different things," the official said.
Meanwhile, one of the country's most prominent liberal legal scholars called Wednesday for Holder to be "fired," joining the growing list of left-leaning pundits slamming his department's pursuit of journalists' phone and email records.
Jonathan Turley, an attorney and law professor at George Washington University, hammered Holder in a USA Today column Wednesday. He charged that Holder has "supervised a comprehensive erosion of privacy rights, press freedom and due process," aided by Democrats who looked the other way.
But in the wake of the reporter records scandal, Democrats are starting to join with Republicans in questioning whether Holder continues to be the right man to lead the Department of Justice in President Obama's second term.
Turley, in his column, referenced a recent call by the Republican National Committee chairman for Holder's resignation. "Unlike the head of the RNC, I am neither a Republican nor conservative, and I believe Holder should be fired," Turley wrote.
While Democrats largely defended Holder when his department came under fire for the botched anti-gunrunning sting Operation Fast and Furious, they've been less forgiving over the move this year to seize two months of phone records from Associated Press offices. That bombshell was compounded by the revelation that the department seized phone and email records for Fox News offices. The scandal grew as the department acknowledged Friday that Holder was involved in the court document that accused Rosen of being a likely criminal "co-conspirator," as part of the department's successful argument for obtaining a search warrant for Rosen's emails.
According to a report in The Daily Beast, aides say Holder has started to feel regret for the investigations. Under Obama's direction, he is starting a review of DOJ policies and meeting with representatives from the media.
A Justice Department official said Wednesday that Holder will hold meetings with several Washington bureau chiefs of national news organizations over the next two days.
"These meetings will begin a series of discussions that will continue to take place over the coming weeks. During these sessions, the Attorney General will engage with a diverse and representative group of news media organizations, including print, wires, radio, television, online media and news and trade associations," the official said.
Turley, in his column, scoffed at this course of action, since Holder was involved in the surveillance -- at least the surveillance involving Fox News -- in the first place. "Such an inquiry offers no reason to trust its conclusions," Turley wrote.
He described Holder as a trusted Obama "sin eater," swallowing the worst criticisms to shield the president.
"Indeed, these sins should be fatal for any attorney general," Turley wrote.
Roanoke Times Opinion Page: Goodlatte's ethanol bill makes good sense
May 30, 2013
In an op-ed published April 24 (“The fuel standard is working”), Adam Monroe, president of Novozymes North America, argued that the Renewable Fuel Standard should not be reformed by Congress.
This recommendation disregards an important fact: The RFS increases food prices for every American. The economics are simple. The RFS creates a government-mandated demand for corn to be processed into ethanol at an ever-increasing volume, regardless of consumer demand, and more importantly, independent of the supply of corn.
Last year, despite a severe drought that ravaged corn supplies, more than 40 percent of the domestic corn crop went to the production of ethanol instead of food. The results were devastating for livestock farmers and American consumers. Since 2005, corn prices have increased 300 percent due to the insatiable demand of this government program.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th District, understands that the RFS is hurting American farmers and consumers, and has introduced legislation to fix the problem. His legislation is a common-sense solution that eliminates the disruptive mandate for corn ethanol while allowing advanced ethanol to continue. Goodlatte’s bill will eliminate a government mandate that has caused higher food costs for everyone. This is an effort every American can support.
Executive Vice President & Chief Sustainability Officer
Smithfield Foods Inc.
WSET: Preparing Roanoke Students for High-Tech World
By Mark Kelly
April 22, 2013
Roanoke, VA - Students at Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Roanoke got a special visit Monday: Congressman Bob Goodlatte showed up, and talked with kids about the Internet.
Rep. Goodlatte talked about how important the Internet is for creating jobs, even telling students his own son once worked at Facebook.
Stonewall Jackson has partnered with a company called Neustar which teaches kids the online skills they'll need in today's high-tech world.
But, Goodlatte reminded students that with the Internet's freedom comes responsibility.
"What they post up on Facebook or tweet to their friends isn't just going to their friends. Sometimes, it's going to the rest of the world, and it may be going there forever," said Rep Goodlatte (R) 6th District.
If you are interested in Neustar and what it can do in your classroom, click here.
Wall Street Journal: An Ethanol Spring
By Editorial Board
April 17, 2013
When Churchill said Americans do the right thing after exhausting all the other options, he was unacquainted with modern Washington. But every now and again that maxim turns out to be true, and so it may be this year with ethanol.
A growing right-left bicoastal coalition is loosening the ethanol lobby's thrall over U.S. politics, and now it may succeed in introducing some rationality to the renewable fuels mandate that passed amid the George W. Bush energy panic in 2007.
Back then everyone assumed domestic gasoline demand would rise to almost 150 billion gallons in 2012 and 155 billion this year. The irony is that 2007 marked the peak of U.S. demand. Last year the country used merely 89% of that projection, and 2013 will probably come in at 80%, or 124 billion gallons. The decline is due mainly to slow economic growth and better fuel economy.
But the 2007 mandate still requires that certain volumes of ethanol be blended into the gas supply each year, with the amount rising over time, which means that more gallons of ethanol are chasing fewer gallons of gas. These quotas will soon force the ethanol to gas ratio to blow past 10%.
Exceeding this per gallon limit harms consumers, who are forced to buy more of product that is less energy efficient yet is also more expensive. Every one-cent increase at the pump steals about $1 billion from the larger economy that consumers would have otherwise saved or spent on something else. Ethanol mixtures above 10% are also unsafe, damaging engines and exhaust systems in older cars and trucks, as well as everything from boats to wood chippers and well pumps.
The Ethanol Promotion Agency—er, the Environmental Protection Agency—could have modified this year's ethanol quotas to reflect market conditions, but it didn't. That decision defies a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling this January vacating part of the 2012 mandate, so reformers in Congress are now moving to intervene.
This month Democrats Jim Costa of California and Peter Welch of Vermont and Republicans Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Steve Womack of Arkansas introduced a bill that would eliminate the specific volume mandates and simply cap ethanol at 10% a gallon. The mandate would then float with gas consumption—still a genuflection to the farm belt but far better than the status quo.
Their proposal would also declare that ethanol is ethanol, regardless of type, erasing the EPA's artificial mandate distinctions for corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel and more. Most of these fuels are not commercially available and may never exist.
Over in the Senate, Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden—an ethanol supporter—conceded last week at a Georgetown conference that "I'm not convinced that the current requirements are achievable" and said his panel would spend "a lot of time" rethinking renewable fuels.
Other reasons for optimism? We count ourselves students of Bob Dinneen, the Renewable Fuels Association lobby president whose rhetorical stridency tends to be inversely proportional to his political prospects. Mr. Dinneen has recently accused ethanol opponents of "living in a fantasy parallel universe" and attacked the House bill as "backwards, silly, circular logic." He's worried it could pass.
The Examiner: Biofuel bill seeks to end ‘unsustainable’ EPA ethanol mandate
By Michal Conger
April 11, 2013
A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday that would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s renewable fuel standard, which the group said creates an artificial market for ethanol that harms the economy.
“The federal government’s creation of an artificial market for the ethanol industry has quite frankly triggered a domino effect that is hurting American consumers, energy producers, livestock producers, food manufacturers, and retailers,” the congressmen said at a press conference.
The RFS Reform Act, introduced by Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Steve Womack (R-Ariz.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) would eliminate corn-based ethanol requirements, cap the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline at 10 percent and require EPA to set its cellulosic biofuel standard at production levels.
“Renewable fuels play an important role in our all-of-the-above energy policy, but should compete fairly in the marketplace and not be the beneficiary of an anti-competitive government mandate,” said Goodlatte.
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In 2011, five billion bushels of corn – nearly 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop — was used for ethanol.
The EPA’s targets for renewable fuels is overly ambitious, according to Costa’s office. EPA’s target for cellulosic biofuels, for instance, is higher than the amount of cellulosic biofuels that actually exist.
“When these non-existent fuels cannot be blended refiners are financially penalized, which ultimately gets passed on to consumers at the pump,” Costa said in a statement.
“The debate is over; the Renewable Fuel Standard as we know it is not sustainable,” he added.
Renewable fuels receive a large share of energy tax incentives, even though they produce less energy than fossil fuels.
“Renewable energy is expected to receive a 44 percent share of total federal energy tax preference incentives in 2013, while fossil fuels are expected to receive a 20 percent share but are expected to produce more than 7 times the energy,” according to the Institute for Energy Research.
The energy industry was quick to praise the proposal on Wednesday.
“The Renewable Fuel Standard Elimination Act recognizes that betting on the RFS to work is like betting against reality, eventually you lose,” said Charles Drevna, president of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. “The RFS was founded upon baseless assumptions and now eight years later, the reality is that there is no fix for this broken program, which is why AFPM fully supports the elimination legislation.”
The ethanol industry was not as positive about the proposal.
“Killing the corn ethanol provisions of the RFS and prohibiting consumers from having the option to buy E15 don’t constitute ‘reform,’ they are heavy-handed government regulations coming from members of Congress who apparently don’t like how the RFS ensures competition in the fuel market,” said Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol.
“This is just a smokescreen for going after the one alternative fuel and the one policy that has fundamentally disrupted oil industry control of the marketplace while saving consumers money at the pump,” the Advanced Ethanol Council said in a statement.
Farm Futures: Renewable Fuel Standard Debate Heats Up Again
April 11, 2013
Four U.S. Representatives Wednesday introduced legislation that would alter the RFS by eliminating corn-based ethanol requirements, capping the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 10%, and requiring the EPA to set cellulosic biofuels levels at production levels.
Reps. Steve Womack, R-Ark., Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Jim Costa, D-Calif. and Peter Welch, D-Vt., announced the "RFS Reform Act" with the support of more than 40 consumer and agricultural organizations.
According to 2013 Renewable Fuels Standard requirements, 13.9 billion gallons of ethanol should be blended into gasoline in 2013 – a value that livestock groups say puts too much pressure on corn supplies.
CORN COMPETITION: Livestock and poultry groups aren't happy with the RFS mandates; ethanol producers say the industry provides service to livestock producers
"Cattlemen and women are self-reliant, but in order to maintain that we cannot be asked to compete with federal mandates like the Renewable Fuels Standard for the limited supply of feed grains," said National Cattlemen's Beef Association Policy Vice Chair Craig Uden.
NCBA and the National Pork Producers Council last fall urged the EPA to waive the RFS in light of extreme drought conditions and concerns that the corn supply would be able to handle pressure from ethanol markets and livestock feeders.
"It is clear, when EPA is unable to provide even a temporary waiver of the RFS during the worst drought in 70 years to assure adequate feed and food supplies, that something is broken and needs to be fixed," said NPPC President Randy Spronk.
The National Chicken Council, too, has said that corn supplies are not ready to handle the increased demand from ethanol markets. NCC President Mike Brown noted that from the view of the NCC, the RFS artificially inflates the price of corn and the new legislation, he says, levels the playing field by "embracing free market principles."
But ethanol advocates aren't so sure about the arguments of livestock producers. Jeff Broin, Co-chairman of the Board for ethanol group Growth Energy, said in a press call Wednesday that corn prices are changing partly due to loss of government subsidies for grain production.
"[Food and livestock] industries were able to buy subsidized grain for about 50 years and I'm sure they liked that – having the government pay for half of their input costs," Broin said. He added that ethanol production doesn't simply compete with livestock for the same grain, but instead offers producers an affordable by-product, dried distillers grains.
Additionally, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis argued, ethanol production does not require 40% of corn crop as publicized by livestock groups.
"That's a gross number, not a net number because of the displacement of the proteins from corn after starch is extracted, and the displacement of soybean meal," Buis said.
The Growth Energy press conference was part of a larger set of scheduled meetings with members of Congress to answer questions about the ethanol industry.
The group also expressed concern that a repeal or alteration of the RFS would push back ethanol advancements and create uncertainty for producers, marketers and ultimately the consumer.
"Any changes to the program would have a devastating effect, creating uncertainty in the marketplace and halting investment in new technologies for biofuel production," Buis said.
"Not only is this legislation short sighted," he added, "it prevents free market access for a price competitive product."
The legislators' bill is supported by: ActionAid USA, the American Frozen Food Institute, the American Meat Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Environmental Working Group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Milk Producers Council, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Chicken Council, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the National Restaurant Association, the National Taxpayers Union, the National Turkey Federation, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, and Taxpayers for Commonsense.