U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, R-Indiana, was a little late getting to a meeting with a group of farmers in Columbus, but he had an excuse.
At 3 a.m. Friday, he was voting on a bipartisan budget deal in Washington, D.C., to reopen the government after a short shutdown, and then rushed to the airport to catch a 6 a.m. flight to Cincinnati, he said to members of the Indiana Corn Growers Association and Indiana Soybean Alliance later Friday morning.
Members of the groups had gathered at the Blackerby’s Hangar 5 Restaurant for breakfast and a chance to talk to the congressman, who has launched a campaign seeking the Indiana U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Joe Donnelly.
When Messer arrived, accompanied by his daughter Ava, he apologized for the delay but explained he needed to vote to make sure the government didn’t stay shut down.
He mentioned his concern about how the Senate has been approaching the budget funding, saying that lately, the U.S. Senate “seems be to a place that a lot of good ideas go to die.”
Messer was particularly concerned that Thursday night’s brief government shutdown was caused by one senator, who he did not name, who “wanted to make a point,” he said.
Rand Paul, a conservative Kentucky Republican, held up the budget deal on a rules question about budget caps on spending in the new measure. The budget deal that had been reached lifted the budget caps to allow the federal government to spend more than $300 billion on defense and domestic programs.
After the vote that approved the budget deal, Messer praised the bipartisan effort as one that funded American troops adequately, something he said he was concerned about.
“Our readiness funding has been cut in half,” Messer said of previous budgets. “We live in a dangerous world and that’s not OK.”
Messer was asked about the new agriculture funding bill that is expected to be heard in Congress in the upcoming weeks, and told the farmers it is his understanding that most of them would prefer a reauthorization of the current bill as the correct policy.
“I think that’s the right course as well,” he said.
Messer and his staff are setting up farmer action networks in the Sixth District to engage more area farmers in the policy development process.
In addition to the 2018 farm bill, Messer and his staff are working on the ramifications of a possible NAFTA repeal, the importance of the biofuels industry including ethanol and biodiesel, and livestock production, said Cory Harris, public affairs program manager for the corn growers.