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Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2008 - Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND VETERANS AFFAIRS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008--Continued -- (Senate - May 22, 2008)

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Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, the pending amendment includes several provisions within my jurisdiction as chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee. Under the current unanimous consent agreement, these provisions will be stripped from the bill if we fail to get 60 votes. So I want my colleagues to know exactly what they are voting against if they oppose this amendment.

The amendment includes $180 million to help American communities and families in most States recover from recent natural disasters, including floods and tornadoes. Already this year, we witnessed a new record of tornado touchdowns, and flooding in the South, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and other parts of the country has been devastating. If these funds are dropped from the bill, then we are asking for even greater destruction when other storm events strike later this year.

The amendment also includes $275 million for the Food and Drug Administration. I know this is important to the senior Senator from Pennsylvania, and I suspect it is also a priority for other Members as well. The FDA needs to get its house in order on food and drug safety, and these funds are targeted to do just that. FDA Commissioner Von Eschenbach called me himself to stress the need for this funding.

Finally, I wish to talk about food aid. For Pub. L. 480, this amendment provides an additional $500 million over the President's request in the current fiscal year. These additional resources will compensate for skyrocketing food and transportation costs that no one in the administration seems to be acknowledging.

I have written two letters in recent weeks, one to the President of the United States and another to the Secretary of State, urging them to support these additional resources. I am still waiting for a response. I am troubled by their silence.

I ask unanimous consent these two letters be printed in the Record.

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Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, Public Law 48 provides our Nation's response to hunger and malnutrition around the globe. By all accounts we are facing a serious crisis in the months ahead. UNICEF estimates that 6 million Ethiopian children under the age of 5 are at risk of malnutrition and that more than 120,000 have only about a month to live--that is a chilling and disturbing thought; 120,000 children in Ethiopia have only a month to live--and we know this tide is coming. Our moral responsibility, I believe, is clear.

There are other critical situations around the globe. The Secretary General of the United Nations is in Burma today, surveying the crisis at hand. These additional resources are needed now and not just for places that are making headlines.

Each of the provisions I described--the flood recovery money, the food and drug safety money, the food aid money--cover legitimate needs that deserve to be addressed. They are not pork, they are not excessive, they are rational responses to critical problems. If we fail to address them in this bill, we have done a disservice to the public.

I urge my colleagues to weigh these items carefully as they consider their support for the pending amendment.

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