President Barack Obama signed the long-awaited farm bill into law Friday, prompting the traditional outpouring of congressional press releases. But among the digital back-pattings was one carefully worded missive that lauded Obama for signing provisions of Rep. Paul Gosar’s wildfire prevention legislation into law — even though Gosar voted against the final bill.
“When it comes to wildfires, 2013 wasn't a good year, which is why I’m especially proud that the majority of my wildfire prevention legislation was signed into law today,” Gosar stated. Gosar went on to say that “while this legislation is a great start, we still must pass other important provisions of my bill that weren’t included in the Farm Bill.”
The Arizona Republican never mentions in his release that he voted against the legislation.
A spokesman for Gosar, Garrett Hawkins, told CQ Roll Call that he didn’t see any "inconsistency” in voting against a bill and celebrating “that a portion of your wildfire legislation is signed into law.”
Hawkins said there were “many parts of the farm bill that we didn’t like.”
For one, Hawkins said, “we didn’t like that the [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] benefits weren’t separated from the farm programs.”
Gosar did vote for the original farm bill, back in June, which maintained the traditional marriage of food stamps and farm programs — something he didn’t mention in his Jan. 29 press release that criticized the farm bill for continuing the “flawed practice of combining agricultural legislation with safety net programs like food stamps.”
In that Jan. 29 statement explaining his opposition, Gosar said the bill, which was 959 pages, was “too long for anyone to read and digest” in the less-than 48 hours lawmakers had from when they received the final language to when they took the final vote.
Gosar also expressed displeasure that the farm bill stripped House-passed language modifying certain livestock regulations, which could have a negative impact on Arizona’s livestock industry.
But he made no mention of his farm bill qualms on Friday, instead choosing to praise with glee the wildfire language that was now law.
Four decades ago, political scientist David Mayhew wrote about “credit claiming” in his seminal book, “Congress: The Electoral Connection.” In it, Mayhew defines credit claiming as “acting so as to generate a belief in a relevant political actor (or actors) that one is personally responsible for causing the government, or some unit thereof, to do something that the actor (or actors) considers desirable.”
While Gosar could be correct that it is largely because of his efforts that these wildfire provisions were included in the farm bill, voting against the bill itself could also damage one's ability to take credit for it.
At least it used to.
Maybe Mayhew needs to update.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.