Political Animal


December 09, 2011 9:20 AM ‘A mad solution to an imaginary problem’

By Steve Benen

Following up on an item from the other day, House Republicans are still hard at work, tackling imaginary concerns.

The House on Thursday approved legislation Republicans said was aimed at ensuring the EPA cannot regulate so-called “farm dust.”

The House on Thursday afternoon approved legislation Republicans said was aimed at ensuring that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot regulate so-called “farm dust.”

The Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, H.R. 1633, which would prevent the EPA from issuing any new rule over the next year that regulates coarse particulate matter, or “nuisance dust,” passed in a 268-150 vote.

Here’s the final roll call — the bill enjoyed unanimous Republican support, as well as the votes of 33 House Democrats.

Just to refresh some memories, the legislation intends to stop proposed regulation that hasn’t, in reality, been proposed.

As Tim Noah explained this week, “It’s political bullshit. There is no pending farm-dust regulation. What there is, is an attempt by Republicans to persuade everybody that there is a pending farm-dust regulation so they can pass a new law exempting the agricultural industry … from an existing clean-air regulation that hardly ever affects farms (but, when it does, addresses a legitimate health issue).”

In other words, with plenty of real-world solutions in need of policymakers’ attention, the House yesterday approved legislation to address a problem that doesn’t exist.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) did a nice job explaining to her colleagues what an absurd waste of time this was. “This session of Congress has felt to many of us like a trip into Alice’s Wonderland,” she said. “While our nation struggles with a devastating economy, we do nothing about jobs or getting Americans back to work. Instead, we repeatedly fall down the rabbit hole of extreme legislation, and now with this [bill] … it seems that we’re even having tea with the Cheshire cat. To paraphrase our friend the Cheshire Cat, ‘We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad. You must be mad, or you wouldn’t have come here.’ … [The bill] is a mad solution to an imaginary problem.”

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • T2 on December 09, 2011 9:38 AM:

    hey, come on. Both sides do it. That's what I heard on TV.

  • BetweenTheLines on December 09, 2011 9:49 AM:

    From Aaron Mintzes @ Earthworks

    Nor is there such thing as farm dust for the purposes of HR 1633; the only place those words appear in the bill is in the title.....HR 1633 instead talks about “nuisance dust”. Nuisance dust is...“…generated from natural sources, unpaved roads, agricultural activities, earth moving, or other activities typically conducted in rural areas”. This is an argument over the Bingham Canyon mine in Utah. The largest copper mine in the world, owned by Kennecott Copper.


  • c u n d gulag on December 09, 2011 9:50 AM:

    Up next:

    The Republicans investigate how Liberals caused "The Pixie Dust Bowl!"

    The Joad Family is busy loading up their Conestoga wagon, hitching up their unicorns, and heading to the North, South, East, and West, where the jobs are.

  • SW on December 09, 2011 9:57 AM:

    Your Congress on Angel Dust!

  • Kathryn on December 09, 2011 10:03 AM:

    Go Diane go, sure we"ll see this on the evening news, no you say, it will never go farther than this blog, shocking! Just finished sending Chuckie Todd an email regarding his half assed reporting on what the demands are by GOP in order to agree to continuing payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits for my futility filling minutes of the day. What a corporate smug tool is Chuck.

  • Peter C on December 09, 2011 10:06 AM:

    Wouldn't it be nice if, through this episode, we realized that legislators need more than just ideology to craft good laws? I'm so sick of 'faith-based' legislators who dismiss facts and reality as inconvenient distractions! We cannot have effective government when Congress lives in a fantasy land and see only what they desperately want to see.

  • chopin on December 09, 2011 10:09 AM:

    ......and the Rethugs just smiled. Because they just received more corporate deposits to their campaign campaign. Because they knew the Corporate Whore Media had their backs. And because some bastard Dems gave them partisan cover.

  • schtick on December 09, 2011 10:11 AM:

    I heard the next item on their agenda was going to be fairy dust, but it would empty their closets.

    crapcha....cousin eloyandu....yer cousin, too?

  • Steve P on December 09, 2011 10:20 AM:


    A Speech for Buncombe
    From 1817 to 1823, western North Carolina, including the proud county of Buncombe, sent Felix Walker to the House of Representatives in Washington. He was a glib and garrulous talker, and doubtless it was his very trivial and high-sounding speeches that found favor with the word-loving mountain voters of the day.

    On February 25, 1820, during the congressional debate on the Missouri Compromise, Walker signaled that he wished to make a speech. But so protracted had been the debate and so weary were the members of the House that a colleague told Walker that no one wished to hear him at that time. The persistent fellow said that he would take only a few moments, for he wished merely a chance to get his speech reported in the newspapers and in that way provide his constituents with solid evidence that he was doing a good job in Washington. "I shall not be speaking to the House," he confessed, "but to Buncombe."

    But in the chambers of the House, "the question was called for so clamorously and so perseveringly that Mr. W. could proceed no farther than to move that the Committee rise," which it refused to do. When later the representative delivered his oration and had it printed in the newspaper, it was agreed that truly it was a speech for Buncombe, meaning that it was frivolous, repetitious, and unnecessary.

    Felix Walker was not downcast. He had done the thing he needed to do, and that was that. Came the comment: "Walker's speech was buncombe--no doubt about it."

    The word caught on. Eventually it was spelled bunkum, meaning any nonsensical language, then shortened to bunk. In such a way did a beautiful mountain county in North Carolina add a new a useful word to the English dictionary.

  • 2Manchu on December 09, 2011 10:34 AM:

    Some other GOP bills that will be up for future votes:

    A bill that prohibits medical experiments on apes that could lead to a race of super-smart apes.

    A bill that requires airliners to install sensors on their planes that warned pilots of gremlins.

    A bill that would officially recognize 3 as a magic number.

    And finally, a bill that declares that the actual line to Elton John's "Rocket Man" is "burning out his fuze up here alone".

  • c u n d gulag on December 09, 2011 10:38 AM:

    Remember, folks - NO fairy dust - too gay.

  • SadOldVet on December 09, 2011 10:43 AM:

    My commentary on the Sad State of the Dumbocrap Party...

    If you check the voting on this to see which DINOs voted with the repukes, you will find Joe Donnelly of Indiana.

    What does it say about the Dumbocrap Party of Indiana that this DINO was their Losing Candidate last year to Our Bitch Mitch Daniels.

  • Fuzzy on December 09, 2011 11:36 AM:

    well, you can get mad, or you can get even.

    What I just did was to donate $25 to Ann McLane Kuster's campaign.

    Then I sent a note to my current GOP rep (Charlie Bass - sounds like a Disney character, doesn't it?) telling him what this news prompted.

    It really does make me feel better.

  • Anonymous on December 09, 2011 1:17 PM:

    at least this actually doesn't harm anyone. maybe the best bill they made up.
    i think their worst one might be "birthday right citizenship" bill.

    hey, could you line up the top 10 craziest bills house actually passed in 2011?

  • Anonymous on December 09, 2011 1:18 PM:

    correction for above comment. not birthday, "birthright citizenship"

  • Anonymous on December 09, 2011 2:12 PM:

    Democrats should have insisted loudly and publicly that the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act needs to contain language explicitly related to Farm dust, not "rural particulate matter".

  • Doug on December 09, 2011 9:44 PM:

    I went to the link and discovered that the "other particulate matter" that the EPA would no longer have the ability to regulate included that from open-pit mines, smelters, etc.
    It's the old shell game of not asking directly for what you want but, instead, trying to sneak it through on the back of some other legislation. That's bad enough and to be expected from the Republicans, what really ikrs me is that the Democrats didn't call them out on it.
    Oh, and SOV? I'd rather have Donelly ANY time, than Daniels.