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United States House Committee on Agriculture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, or Agriculture Committee is a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives. The House Committee on Agriculture has general jurisdiction over federal agriculture policy and oversight of some federal agencies, and it can recommend funding appropriations for various governmental agencies, programs, and activities, as defined by House rules.

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  • ✪ Congressional Committees: Crash Course Government and Politics #7

Transcription

Hi, I'm Craig and this is Crash Course Government and Politics and today we're going to get down and dirty wallowing in the mud that is Congress. Okay, maybe that's a little unfair, but the workings of Congress are kind of arcane or byzantine or maybe let's just say extremely complex and confusing, like me, or Game of Thrones without the nudity. Some of the nudity, maybe. However, Congress is the most important branch, so it would probably behoove most Americans to know how it works. I'm going to try to explain. Be prepared to be behooved. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are divided up into committees in order to make them more efficient. The committees you hear about most are the standing committees, which are relatively permanent and handle the day-to-day business of Congress. The House has 19 standing committees and the Senate 16. Congressmen and Senators serve on multiple committees. Each committee has a chairperson, or chair, who is the one who usually gets mentioned in the press, which is why you would know the name of the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Tell us in the comments if you do know, or tell us if you are on the committee, or just say hi. Congress creates special or select committees to deal with particular issues that are beyond the jurisdiction of standing committees. Some of them are temporary and some, like the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, are permanent. Some of them have only an advisory function which means they can't write laws. The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming has only advisory authority which tells you pretty much all you need to know about Congress and climate change. There are joint committees made up of members of both houses. Most of them are standing committees and they don't do a lot although the joint Committee on the Library oversees the Library of Congress, without which we would not be able to use a lot of these pictures. Like that one, and that one, and ooh that one's my favorite. Other committees are conference committees, which are created to reconcile a bill when the House and Senate write different versions of it, but I'll talk about those later when we try to figure out how a bill becomes a law. So why does Congress have so many committees? The main reason is that it's more efficient to write legislation in a smaller group rather than a larger one. Congressional committees also allow Congressmen to develop expertise on certain topics. So a Congressperson from Iowa can get on an agriculture committee because that is an issue he presumably knows something about if he pays attention to his constituents. Or a Congressperson from Oklahoma could be on the Regulation of Wind Rolling Down the Plain Committee. Committees allow members of Congress to follows their own interests, so someone passionate about national defense can try to get on the armed services committee. Probably more important, serving on a committee is something that a Congressperson can claim credit for and use to build up his or her brand when it comes time for reelection. Congress also has committees for historical reasons. Congress is pretty tradish, which is what you say when you don't have time to say traditional. Anyway, it doesn't see much need to change a system that has worked, for the most part, since 1825. That doesn't mean that Congress hasn't tried to tweak the system. Let's talk about how committees actually work in the Thought Bubble. Any member of Congress can propose a bill, this is called proposal power, but it has to go to a committee first. Then to get to the rest of the House or Senate it has to be reported out of committee. The chair determines the agenda by choosing which issues get considered. In the House the Speaker refers bills to particular committees, but the committee chair has some discretion over whether or not to act on the bills. This power to control what ideas do or do not become bills is what political scientists call "Gatekeeping Authority", and it's a remarkably important power that we rarely ever think about, largely because when a bill doesn't make it on to the agenda, there's not much to write or talk about. The committee chairs also manage the actual process of writing a bill, which is called mark-up, and the vote on the bill in the committee itself. If a bill doesn't receive a majority of votes in the committee, it won't be reported out to the full House or Senate. In this case we say the bill "died in committee" and we have a small funeral on the National Mall. Nah we just put it in the shredder. Anyway, committee voting is kind of an efficient practice. If a bill can't command a majority in a small committee it doesn't have much chance in the floor of either house. Committees can kill bills by just not voting on them, but it is possible in the House to force them to vote by filing a discharge petition - this almost never happens. Gatekeeping Authority is Congress's most important power, but it also has oversight power, which is an after-the-fact authority to check up on how law is being implemented. Committees exercise oversight by assigning staff to scrutinize a particular law or policy and by holding hearings. Holding hearings is an excellent way to take a position on a particular issue. Thanks Thought Bubble. So those are the basics of how committees work, but I promised you we'd go beyond the basics, so here we go into the Realm of Congressional History. Since Congress started using committees they have made a number of changes, but the ones that have bent the Congress into its current shape occurred under the speakership of Newt Gingrich in 1994. Overall Gingrich increased the power of the Speaker, who was already pretty powerful. The number of subcommittees was reduced, and seniority rules in appointing chairs were changed. Before Gingrich or "BG" the chair of a committee was usually the longest serving member of the majority party, which for most of the 20th century was the Democrats. AG Congress, or Anno Gingrichy Congress, holds votes to choose the chairs. The Speaker has a lot of influence over who gets chosen on these votes, which happen more regularly because the Republicans also impose term limits on the committee chairs. Being able to offer chairmanships to loyal party members gives the Speaker a lot more influence over the committees themselves. The Speaker also increased his, or her - this is the first time we can say that, thanks Nancy Pelosi - power to refer bills to committee and act as gatekeeper. Gingrich also made changes to congressional staffing. But before we discuss the changes, let's spend a minute or two looking at Congressional staff in general. There are two types of congressional staff, the Staff Assistants that each Congressperson or Senator has to help her or him with the actual job of being a legislator, and the Staff Agencies that work for Congress as a whole. The staff of a Congressperson is incredibly important. Some staffers' job is to research and write legislation while others do case work, like responding to constituents' requests. Some staffers perform personal functions, like keeping track of a Congressperson's calendar, or most importantly making coffee - can we get a staffer in here? As Congresspeople spend more and more time raising money, more and more of the actual legislative work is done by staff. In addition to the individual staffers, Congress as a whole has specialized staff agencies that are supposed to be more independent. You may have heard of these agencies, or at least some of them. The Congressional Research Service is supposed to perform unbiased factual research for Congresspeople and their staff to help them in the process of writing the actual bills. The Government Accountability Office is a branch of Congress that can investigate the finances and administration of any government administrative office. The Congressional Budget Office assesses the likely costs and impact of legislation. When the CBO looks at the cost of a particular bill it's called "scoring the bill." The Congressional reforms after 1994 generally increased the number of individual staff and reduced the staff of the staff agencies. This means that more legislation comes out of the offices of individual Congresspeople. The last feature of Congress that I'm going to mention, briefly because their actual function and importance is nebulous, is the caucus system. These are caucuses in Congress, so don't confuse them with the caucuses that some states use to choose candidates for office, like the ones in Iowa. Caucuses are semi-formal groups of Congresspeople organized around particular identities or interests. Semi-formal in this case doesn't mean that they wear suits and ties, it means that they don't have official function in the legislative process. But you know what? Class it up a little - just try to look nice. The Congressional Black Caucus is made up of the African American members of the legislature. The Republican Study Group is the conservative caucus that meets to discuss conservative issues and develop legislative strategies. Since 2010 there is also a Tea Party caucus in Congress. There are also caucuses for very specific interests like the Bike Caucus that focuses on cycling. There should also be a Beard Caucus, shouldn't there? Is there a Beard Caucus Stan? No? What about an eagle punching caucus? The purpose of these caucuses is for like minded people to gather and discuss ideas. The caucuses can help members of Congress coordinate their efforts and also provide leadership opportunities for individual Congresspeople outside of the more formal structures of committees. There are a lot of terms and details to remember, but here's the big thing to take away: caucuses, congressional staff, and especially committees, all exist to make the process of lawmaking more efficient. In particular, committees and staff allow individual legislators to develop expertise; this is the theory anyway. Yes it's a theory. Committees also serve a political function of helping Congresspeople build an identity for voters that should help them get elected. In some ways this is just as important in the role in the process of making actual legislation. When Congress doesn't pass many laws, committee membership, or better yet, being a committee chair is one of the only ways that a Congressperson can distinguish him or herself. At least it gives you something more to learn about incumbents when you're making your voting choices. Thanks for watching. I'll see you next week. Crash Course is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios. Support for Crash Course US Government comes from Voqal. Voqal supports nonprofits that use technology and media to advance social equity. Learn more about their mission and initiatives at voqal.org Crash Course is made with all of these lovely people. Thanks for watching. Staffer! Coffee! Please. Thank you.

Contents

History of the Agriculture Committee

The Agriculture Committee was created on May 3, 1820, after Lewis Williams of North Carolina sponsored a resolution to create the committee and give agricultural issues equal weight with commercial and manufacturing interests. The committee originally consisted of seven members, from the states of Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. Thomas Forrest of Pennsylvania was the first chairman. The Agriculture Committee remained a seven-member body until 1835, when two more members were added. It was not until 1871 that the next two members were added. Since then it has gradually grown to its current size of 46 members.

The U.S. Senate counterpart to the House Agriculture Committee, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, was created on December 9, 1825.

Role of the Agriculture Committee

The Agriculture Committee is not generally considered to be a particularly powerful one. However, it is an important committee to be on for Representatives from many rural areas where agriculture is the main industry. The committee has jurisdiction over agriculture, forestry, nutrition, water conservation, and other agriculture-related fields.

Jurisdiction

As prescribed by House Rules, the Committee on Agriculture's jurisdiction includes the following:

  • Adulteration of seeds, insect pests, and protection of birds and animals in forest reserves
  • Agriculture generally
  • Agricultural and industrial chemistry
  • Agricultural colleges and experiment stations
  • Agricultural economics and research
  • Agricultural education extension services
  • Agricultural production, marketing and stabilization of prices of agricultural products, and commodities (excluding foreign distribution)
  • Animal industry and diseases of animals
  • Commodity exchanges
  • Crop insurance and soil conservation
  • Dairy industry
  • Entomology and plant quarantine
  • Extension of farm credit and farm security
  • Inspection of livestock, poultry, meat products, and seafood and seafood products
  • Forestry in general and forest reserves other than those created from the public domain
  • Human nutrition and home economics
  • Plant industry, soils, and agricultural engineering
  • Rural electrification
  • Rural development
  • Water conservation related to activities of the Department of Agriculture

Members, 116th Congress

Majority Minority

Resolutions electing members: H.Res. 24 (Chair), H.Res. 25 (Ranking Member), H.Res. 57 (D), H.Res. 68 (R)

Historical membership rosters

115th Congress

Majority[1] Minority[2]

Subcommittees

Subcommittee Chair[3] Ranking Member[4]
Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit David Scott (D-GA) Austin Scott (R-GA)
Conservation and Forestry Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)
Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations Marcia Fudge (D-OH) Dusty Johnson (R-SD)
General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Filemon Vela Jr. (D-TX) Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) Neal Dunn (R-FL)
Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Jim Costa (D-CA) David Rouzer (R-NC)

Chairmen since 1820

Chairman Party State Years
Thomas Forrest Federalist Pennsylvania 1820–1821
Josiah Butler Democratic-Republican New Hampshire 1821–1823
Stephen Van Rensselaer National Republican New York 1823–1829
Ambrose Spencer National Republican New York 1829–1831
Erastus Root Democratic New York 1831–1833
Abraham Bockee Democratic New York 1833–1837
Edmund Deberry Whig North Carolina 1837–1845
Joseph H. Anderson Democratic New York 1845–1847
Hugh White Whig New York 1847–1849
Nathaniel S. Littlefield Democratic Maine 1849–1851
John G. Floyd Democratic New York 1851–1853
John L. Dawson Democratic Pennsylvania 1853–1855
David P. Holloway Opposition Indiana 1855–1857
William G. Whiteley Democratic Delaware 1857–1859
Martin Butterfield Republican New York 1859–1861
Owen Lovejoy Republican Illinois 1861–1863
Brutus J. Clay Union Kentucky 1863–1865
John Bidwell Republican California 1865–1867
Rowland E. Trowbridge Republican Michigan 1867–1869
John T. Wilson Republican Ohio 1869–1873
Charles Hays Republican Alabama 1873–1875
John H. Caldwell Democratic Alabama 1875–1877
Augustus W. Cutler Democratic New Jersey 1877–1879
James W. Covert Democratic New York 1879–1881
Edward K. Valentine Republican Nebraska 1881–1883
William H. Hatch Democratic Missouri 1883–1889
Edward H. Funston Republican Kansas 1889–1891
William H. Hatch Democratic Missouri 1891–1895
James W. Wadsworth Republican New York 1895–1907
Charles F. Scott Republican Kansas 1907–1911
John Lamb Democratic Virginia 1911–1913
Asbury F. Lever Democratic South Carolina 1913–1919
Gilbert N. Haugen Republican Iowa 1919–1931
Marvin Jones Democratic Texas 1931–1941
Hampton P. Fulmer Democratic South Carolina 1941–1945
John W. Flannagan, Jr. Democratic Virginia 1945–1947
Clifford R. Hope Republican Kansas 1947–1949
Harold D. Cooley Democratic North Carolina 1949–1953
Clifford R. Hope Republican Kansas 1953–1955
Harold D. Cooley Democratic North Carolina 1955–1967
William R. Poage Democratic Texas 1967–1975
Thomas S. Foley Democratic Washington 1975–1981
Kika de la Garza Democratic Texas 1981–1995
Pat Roberts Republican Kansas 1995–1997
Robert F. Smith Republican Oregon 1997–1999
Larry Combest Republican Texas 1999–2003
Bob Goodlatte Republican Virginia 2003–2007
Collin Peterson Democratic Minnesota 2007–2011
Frank Lucas Republican Oklahoma 2011–2015
Mike Conaway Republican Texas 2015–2019
Collin Peterson Democratic Minnesota 2019-present

References

See also

External links

This page was last edited on 23 February 2019, at 22:56
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