Participants of the Washington Public Policy Conference who wanted to come and experience Washington, D.C. in the worst way got their wish.
The government shutdown, in addition to making it difficult for World War II veterans visit the World War II memorial, resulted in cancelled WPPC meetings with lawmakers on Oct. 1. The Fresh Festival, usually playing to overflow crowds at a Congressional office building, had to be moved to the Hyatt Regency. The event was still enjoyable, but not quite as frenetic as veteran WPPC attendees expect.
On the morning of Oct. 2, the WPPC scheduled visit to FDA headquarters was cancelled. A backup plan offered by Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner for Foods Mike Taylor to make an appearance before the WPPC was nixed when he was apparently directed by higher-ups not to show up.
United Fresh officials did a great job of programming the event, and the agenda that did unfold was very good. The government shutdown wrecked some of their best plans, however.
Speaking to the WPPC on Oct. 1, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said the current political storm was difficult to fathom, even for one in the middle of it.
She said conservative Republicans had shut down the government in what she said was a case of “wag the dog.”
“They have come here to shut the government down, and they are pretty happy today because they finally have done it, even if it is only for a short time,” she said. Stabenow said the shutdown came as a result of a six-week funding bill that some Republicans decided to use to attack Obamacare.
“As somebody who negotiates all the time, as somebody who worked very hard to bring together over two thirds of the U.S. Senate on a bipartisan basis to pass a farm bill, I can just tell you this is not the way to do things,” she said.
As a member of Congress, Stabenow said she could identify with a quote that Will Rogers said about farmers; a farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.
“I feel that applies to my job today” she said. “We need to get back to governing and we need to get things done.”
Perhaps a member of Congress could not be so without being an optimist. Unfortunately, Congress and Washington D.C. politics are making cynics of everyone else.