For months, I’ve watched Richard Burr, and time and time again, he said he’d do everything he could to ensure we had a tobacco buyout. When he said this, I took him at his word. Time and time again, he said FDA regulation or no, he’d vote for a buyout. “Whatever it takes because that’s how important this is for our farmers,” he told my father, once. When he said this, I took him at his word.
But yesterday, Richard Burr showed his cards. Yesterday, Richard Burr showed that the support of the executives at RJ Reynolds mattered more to him than the support of North Carolina tobacco farmers. Yesterday, Richard Burr voted for a tobacco buyout that prevented the FDA from regulating tobacco. Yesterday, Richard Burr voted against provisions that would have paid farmers billions more. Yesterday, Richard Burr made a vote that will kill the buyout bill this year and probably damn it for all of time.
“The FDA is the wrong place for regulation,” he told reporters. "We already have enough regulation."
The problem with that idea is that it isn’t farmers complaining about regulation. It’s big tobacco. And it’s not all big tobacco. Phillip Morris supports a buyout with FDA regulation. It’s RJ Reynolds that Burr was listening to, and small wonder, because that company has supported him for years.
At the very least, his vote will cost North Carolina $790 million. At worst, it means the end to the legislation. The Senate is willing to bend on lots of things, but regulation has always been part of the deal. Regulation is the catalyst that has held the coalition of anti-smoking advocates, tobacco companies, and farmers together to lobby for this bill. Senator Dole recognizes that, and she has always supported a buyout with the FDA provision.
I’m so angry, I can’t even write coherently. Please help Erskine beat this guy!
The Senate about to vote to invoke cloture on the bill which includes the tobacco buyout. It is attached to a HUGELY important tax bill. And the Senate will surely vote to end the debate rather than see the $108 billion bill delayed. The buyout is going to happen, as it undoubtedly should. The buyout is more important than party politics.
That doesn't change the fact that Richard Burr would rather protect RJR than support tobacco farmers, and in doing so, he cost the rural areas of this state close to $800 million. That's unacceptable.