Van Orden: Standing for all American energy

Derrick Van Orden
Rep. Derrick Van Orden

My favorite part of the U.S. Capitol is not the Rotunda, Statuary Hall, or even the House Chamber. It is a simple quote painted above a door downstairs: “When tillage begins other arts follow the farmers therefore are the founders of human civilization.” Daniel Webster said this in 1840.

To my Republican colleagues, I would say that it is disingenuous to say publicly that we are “all of the above” for American energy if we do not embrace biofuels.

Simultaneously, I say to my Democratic friends, it is disingenuous to set policies that de-facto abolish petrochemicals and yet admit that we will be dependent on them for at least another decade.

Both positions have been forwarded in the House Chamber, including by President Biden. I find these to be either duplicitous or ill-informed, and I choose to be neither. I choose to stand for all American energy, including that produced by our American farmers and our roughnecks. 

Our first President was clear about public policy and agriculture when he said that “it will not be doubted…agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as nations advance in population and other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more apparent, and renders the cultivation of the soil, more and more, an object of public patronage.” 

When Washington says “more and more,” he acknowledges that agriculture has always been an object of public patronage and as we continue to grow, it must be a key component of our National Security. 

During World War II, farmers were given draft deferments so they could feed our military members that were fighting against fascist Germany and Imperial Japan. Somewhere along the line, that was forgotten. 

Unfortunately, the initial writing of the debt ceiling bill, entitled the Limit, Save, Grow Act, did not acknowledge that. It did not stand with our farmers, and I always will. 

That’s why I submitted an amendment that struck sections of the Limit, Save, Grow Act which would have repealed tax credits for biodiesel and biofuels like ethanol, and joined several of my colleagues from the Midwest in urging Speaker McCarthy to include protections for our corn growers and the biofuels industry.

Fortunately, the Republican Conference made great strides in recognizing our farmers by adopting elements of my amendment. We fought for our farmers and won.

With that said, if the final bill as returned from the Senate includes the further provisions that do not show the proper respect for our farmers, our national security, or the promotion of nuclear energy, I will not vote for its passage. 

I have full confidence that Speaker McCarthy will take this opportunity to keep his word to this body and to the American people. My confidence was bolstered by his willingness to remove several of the devastating provisions in the bill raised by me and my colleagues prior to the bill’s passage in the House.

By President Biden refusing to negotiate with Speaker McCarthy, he is adding to a growing train of usurpations of the constitutional authority vested in both my Republican and Democratic friends in congress who were sent to Washington DC to represent them, not a political party. This is no more appropriate now than when Jefferson wrote these words than it is now.

I voted for the revised Limit, Save, Grow Act because it is our obligation to get Speaker McCarthy to the table with the President.

It is Speaker McCarthy’s burden to get the President to a place that can both meet our collective obligations as articulated by George Washington and secure the future for our progenitors and our progeny.

Congressman Derrick Van Orden represents Wisconsin’s Third District in the House of Representatives, where he serves on the Agriculture Committee.