D.C. Notebook: Lee: Farm bill is Frankenstein's monster
Sen. Mike Lee railed against the farm bill passed by the Senate this week and seemed to take extra care to describe this most horrible piece of legislation that his colleague Sen. Orrin Hatch and a big majority of senators approved. Here are the many ways Lee described the farm bill in a Senate floor speech:
A "monument to every dysfunction Washington indulges in to defend our policies and twist our economy to benefit itself at the expense of the American people;"
"It benefits special interests at the expense of national interest;"
"The final product before us is not just a legislative vehicle, it is a legislative getaway car;"
"Congress broke out the neck bolts and sutures and put Frankenstein's monster back together;"
"It's [a] bullying, disenfranchising shakedown of the American West;"
This is Congress "lording its power over Western communities to extort political concessions from them, like some two-bit protection racket."
And finally, on the Christmas-tree tax included in the bill, "So every December, Washington will, in effect, rob the Cratchits to pay Mr. Scrooge and his lobbyists in Washington."
It looks like Lee's team is having fun creating ways to say no.
Bummer • Three of Lee's closest Senate allies are considering a run for the White House, which puts Utah's tea-party darling in a tough spot.
Does he endorse Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, his shutdown ally? Or how about Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who filibustered on domestic-drone use?
Maybe he goes with fiscal hawk Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.?
Lee knows he faces a quandary, but he's not saying which way he's leaning.
"2016 is still quite a long ways away, and we'll see what happens," he told USA Today. "It's kind of a bummer when three of your favorite people in the Senate are all considering a run for the presidency at the same time."
A new calling • A group of Mormon House Republicans gathered in the office of Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., early Thursday morning for a spiritual conversation they insist wasn't about politics. It was just a chance for congressional Mormons to focus on their faith in an informal setting.
This all-male group did make one assignment beforehand. They asked Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to bring some treats. And true to form, he appeared with a dozen Dunkin' Donuts.
He joked that he was playing the Relief Society role.
Confirmed • The Senate unanimously confirmed Sen. Max Baucus to be the ambassador to China and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was the first to pay tribute to the Democrat from Montana on the Senate floor.
Baucus has led the Senate Finance Committee, and Hatch is the panel's top Republican. They have worked on tax reform, though it appears to have stalled, on trade deals and on an investigation into the IRS handling of tea-party groups. The two have been at odds over the Affordable Care Act.
Hatch heaped praise on Baucus, saying he has done "a terrific job" in leading the committee and that he's been "indefatigable" in his representation of Montana.
Baucus joined the Senate in 1978, two years after Hatch.
"I have nothing but respect for Max. I appreciate him very much. I am his friend, and I intend to continue this friendship as long as we both live," Hatch said.
When it was Baucus' turn to say farewell to the Senate, he returned the compliment.
"The senator is a real American Orrin Hatch. He's the salt of Utah and cares about his state and his country. The senator is a wonderful person to work with."
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