Editorial: Congressional waste

Rep. Doug LaMalfa embarrasses himself and constituents, then breaks from bipartisan effort to clean up federal forests

Rep. Doug LaMalfa questions Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg during a September congressional committee meeting.

Like the majority of Americans who believe climate change poses an existential threat to the United States, we cringed when we saw a recent viral clip of Rep. Doug LaMalfa making a fool out of himself on the subject.

It’s one thing when the North State congressman spews ignorance in the press releases he sends to his supporters or during his infrequent local appearances. But it’s another thing entirely when the Richvale rice farmer embarrasses his entire District 1 constituency.

That’s exactly what took place when he made a snarky comment to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg during a September congressional committee meeting. Buttigieg was speaking on the importance of mitigating climate change, and LaMalfa’s retort was to deny it even exists: “This climate change right now is called autumn,” he said.

To his credit, Buttigieg didn’t roll his eyes or sigh, like we would have, despite LaMalfa’s comment or the fact that he was rude throughout their exchanges. To wit: LaMalfa had repeatedly asked the Biden appointee questions, only to interrupt while the man attempted to answer them. Instead, Buttigieg simply stated the obvious. “Yeah, that’s the season changing, which, respectfully, is not the same thing as the climate changing.”

Following that ridiculous back and forth, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Marin) responded indirectly to LaMalfa during his comments to Buttigieg: “You can see that I serve here in Congress with some of the greatest minds of the 19th century.”

It was a pretty sick burn. But true to form, LaMalfa can dish it out but can’t take it.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, following the meeting, LaMalfa’s office canceled plans to work with Huffman on a measure to support a Forest Service program designed to clean up environmental damage on federal lands due to illegal marijuana grows and their associated use of toxic chemicals. The plan had been to add the so-called TOXIC Act (H.R. 1473) to the pending farm bill, critical legislation that requires reauthorization every five years.

LaMalfa’s team delivered that news to Huffman by way of a stunt, arriving at his office bedecked in coonskin hats and handing over the message on a crudely made scroll.

Notably, the farm bill is the same piece of legislation that includes funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps, as well as subsidies for farmers.

LaMalfa has a history of attempting to cut food stamps for low-income Americans, including the high percentage of impoverished citizens in his district, while supporting government assistance for himself and other wealthy farmers in the form of agricultural subsidies. Indeed, LaMalfa and his family have received more than $5.5 million in federal ag welfare, making the congressman perhaps the fattest fat cat in Congress and a top contender for biggest hypocrite as well.

He’d do well to zip his lips.

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