Last week, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law. The bill, comprised of $1.9 trillion in the name of “COVID relief,” received no support from Republicans in the House or Senate, and it’s not hard to see why.
The legislation includes carveouts for dozens of leftist priorities, including a bridge in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s New York and a tunnel in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Silicon Valley. These items clearly have nothing to do with pandemic relief for the millions of Americans out of work or the businesses shuttered by blue state governors’ harsh public health regulations. To the hardworking Americans everywhere, this bill should reek of the far-left’s desire to shove their ill-conceived policy priorities wherever they can stash them.
What most don’t know about this bill, however, is the small provision known as “Section 1005” that authorizes the secretary of agriculture to make payments of 100 to 120 percent of the “outstanding indebtedness of socially disadvantaged farmers.” Under this provision, those included in the socially disadvantaged category are American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Asians, Blacks, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics.
Putting aside all of the Washington jargon that makes little sense outside of a committee hearing room, this provision—specifically written into the American Rescue Plan by Democrats—pushes a blurred vision of so-called “social equity” by providing relief for farmers based on the color of their skin. Rather than offering much needed relief to all farmers, Sec. 1005 prioritizes race, just as it would ethnicity, sex, or any other factor.
It bears repeating: Sec. 1005 focuses debt relief on farmers based on their race, not based on how harshly the pandemic has affected them—the very reason for relief in the first place. Ironically, this racial discrimination is the very focus of what officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have worked so hard to combat.
The 1999 Supreme Court case Pigford v. Glickman handled this very issue when a class-action discrimination suit against the USDA by black farmers found true discrimination on the basis of race that subsequently resulted in cash relief, debt relief, and tax payments. In the years since, the case has provided billions to claimants due to proven discrimination within the department.
With Section 1005, Democrats are playing the ultimate social justice warrior with needed relief, weaving their flawed narrative into legislation as a naked attempt to balance the scales in the name of racial justice. The American Rescue Plan should have been designed to help all of those affected by the pandemic, but this provision specifically avoids focused aid toward all farmers.
Furthermore, the provision does not require any proof of discrimination to receive debt relief, simply designating a certain group of farmers as “socially disadvantaged” based solely on skin color. Despite this being a marked change from what was required in earlier relief to minority farmers in Pigford, Democrats are intent on ensuring all pieces of legislation are somehow tied to race, even when it makes no sense at all.
What’s more, Section 1005 excludes women from the list of socially disadvantaged farmers. For a party that claims to care so much about women’s empowerment, the “socially disadvantaged” category seems to be nothing more than a misnomer, including only the individual groups tied to race instead. This although there are fewer women farmers than men and many have been disproportionately harmed by lockdowns over the last several months.
While the American Rescue Plan received no support from conservatives because of all the pork it contains, the Democrats will continue to rail against House Republicans for our lack of support for this ridiculous bill, knowing all the while all it did was show how the left wants to push its radical agenda that hurts the American people rather than fight for real relief.
In my district and across the state of Florida, farmers have been forced to disk crops that can’t be sold due to the pandemic. Real relief isn’t including social equity provisions when all farmers have been affected by COVID-19. While the Democrats continue to push leftist policies in the U.S. House, I’ll continue to fight for all farmers—just as Democrats should fight for all Americans.