The status of a proposal for the downtown riverfront was part of what brought Congressman Glenn Thompson to Warren on Monday.
“I thought it was a great project,” he said of the development that has taken place in the former Loranger building.
Thompson said he put an earmark in for $1.5 million in dedicated funding for the downtown riverfront, citing significant local investment in that area.
He said he put an earmark in for $1.5 million in dedicated funding for the downtown riverfront, citing significant local investment in that area.
“I’m trying to be very discerning with the projects I support,” he said. “(I was) disappointed when it didn’t make the final cut in this year’s appropriation.”
Thompson said he is still looking for funding for the project and said that was part of why he was in Warren Monday.
“I want to be optimistic anyways,” he said. “Good projects take forever.”
Looking ahead to the 118th Congress, the farm bill and cryptocurrency regulations are shaping up as priorities for the next two years.
Thompson does have a Democratic challenger in next month’s election but the seat is safely red. Thompson’s closest election was his initial election in 2008 which he carried by 16 points.
In 2020, he carried the district by nearly 50 points.
As the current ranking Republican member on the House Agriculture Committee, he’s got his eyes set on a potential chairmanship should the Republicans take back the majority in the House.
That makes his priorities pretty easy.
“For me, obviously the Farm Bill,” he said.
According to the Congressional Research Service, that bill spans multiple years and “governs an array of agricultural and food programs. It provides an opportunity for policymakers to comprehensively and periodically address agricultural and food issues.”
The bill, per the CRS, typically focuses on “farm commodity program support for a handful of staple commodities– corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, peanuts, dairy, and sugar.”
Thompson said the current iteration is set to expire in Sept. 2023 and called it the “single most important piece of legislation that impacts rural America.”
He said there are three options – let it expire which he called “not an option” as it would take farm regulations back to the era of the Dust Bowl; extend the current bill which is just “kicking the can” or institute a new bill which is the “only option.”
“We’re way behind,” he stressed. “Under Democratic leadership we have not been doing our due diligence. If given the opportunity to chair, we’ll change that come January. It’s going to be pretty intense.”
The other major legislative priority might not sound like an agricultural issue at all – regulations regarding crypto-currency.
He explained why that issue is before the Ag Committee – when a crypto-currency is first created, it is traded and overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission; but once it is traded, it is considered a commodity, which brings it under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture.
“There’s an urgency,” he said, “with putting some guidelines, legislative guardrails around crypto-currency.”
He’s introduced legislation – the Digital Commodity Exchange Act that, he said, would “do no harm, protect people in the marketplace” while also fostering innovation with the underlying technology.
“Blockchain… it will be transformational to our economy,” he said, explaining that countries ranging in size from China to Malta are developing these rules.
“The US is way behind,” he said, “but the US is where people want to do business.”
The legislation, he said, would still allow state regulation as many states have already done but would implement a national standard. Failing to tackle this issue, he said, could result in the nation losing its “competitive space in the world economy…. Let’s keep it simple and do what we need to do.”
His proposal, he said, “is close” and he hopes it is moved out of committee this fall.
“(It) hasn’t happened yet,” he said, but the effort is “further along than it has been in the past.”