PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 4766, AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - July 12, 2004)
Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 710 and ask for its immediate consideration.
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Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) for yielding me time and for all the attention that he, in particular, pays to this important bill on agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. I also wanted to thank the representative of the Committee on Rules, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Linder), today for this consideration under an open rule. We, therefore, support the rule. And to my good friend, the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. Latham), from the committee for as hard as he has worked along with all of us on both sides of the aisle in trying to bring this measure before the full House.
This bill obviously has been put together under some of the most trying budget circumstances that we have ever seen. When last year's bill came before us, I said we were trying to stuff a size 10 foot into a shoe that was actually size 7. This in our country that needed more than we could provide in that bill. This year we have a size 6 shoe, and we have a size 11 foot. And so we have many more needs than we can accommodate in this bill.
We literally had requests from Members from across our country, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of requests that we could simply not address. They are not addressed in this bill at all.
The discretionary portion of this bill totals $16.772 billion, which is a reduction of $67 million over this year, and compared to fiscal year 2003, a reduction of over $1.1 billion. That is nearly a 6 percent reduction compared to 2 years ago.
That means that all the Members who came to us for water and sewer projects, rural water and sewer projects, we just simply could not meet the requests.
The Women, Infant and Children's food program, though, we have raised it from last year, is probably $150 million short in view of the rising need around our country, the unevenness, of the economy and lackluster job creation. We just simply do not have adequate money in these bills to meet all needs.
At the same time, our country is now spending over $100 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan. Imagine if we were able to take and divide that up and give every State in our Union an additional $2 billion, $2 billion that they could share with our localities that are short on funds. We seem to be able to find money for some things around the world. But then we do not find money for very other worthy needs across this Nation.
For example, in our Commodity Supplemental Food Program, we want to take surplus food commodities and give them to our food banks and to people who need them. We are about $15 million short in that account, despite all the need across this country and the greater and greater numbers of people coming into our soup kitchens and our feeding kitchens all over this Nation.
Meanwhile, in this budget, we have been forced to put money into accounts to take care of what we call invasive species, that is, all these little critters that are coming into our country for which there is no known biological control. The cost of this now totals hundreds of millions of dollars compared to 10 years ago. Whether it is the Asian Longhorned Beetle eating all those trees in Chicago and New York City or whether it is the Emerald Ash Borer in States like Michigan and Ohio, those invasive species are just eating their way through all the forest lands, with those cost burdens now being put on the taxpayer. We basically take this money from a very inadequate allocation and divert it in order to try to prevent additional damage, and really these costs should not be the responsibility of the localities and of the Federal Government but those commercial interests that caused the damage in the first place.
I just want to say that agricultural America, and rural small towns, are trying as hard as they can. They have always demonstrated a real vision toward the future. We hope that as this bill moves towards the Senate we will be able to fix some of the inadequacies that currently exist in this bill.
I want to thank the gentleman from Texas (Chairman Bonilla), the chairman of our subcommittee, for his willingness to work across the aisle and to do the best we could, again with a size eleven foot bill when, in fact, we only have a shoe about size six. We just cannot meet all the needs that are being asked of us. But we have done the best we can.
I rise in support of the rule and ask the Members to vote for the rule and ultimately for the bill.
I will also say that when the bill comes to the floor for full consideration tomorrow we will be offering amendments in the area of biofuels, trying to help to generate new industry across this country, a renewable fuels industry in ethanol and biodiesel and some of the new alcohol based fuels we have not even invented yet.
We will have an amendment on Iraq and will bring to the attention of the country the misuse of the Commodity Credit Corporation back during the 1980s and 1990s which has led us to have to bail out banks in the Middle East as a result of what was done back then and potentially what could happen again by what is being proposed in this bill now.
We will have an amendment dealing with outsourcing of call centers by the Food Stamp Program, trying to bring those call centers back to the United States, to our own people who need work.
Finally, we may have amendments dealing with the reimportation of prescription drugs, and we want to keep the base amendment that we were able to insert at the subcommittee level, which is to allow the reimportation of drugs from nations like Canada so that our people can buy them at affordable prices. We want to be able to keep that in the bill.
We will have an amendment on the Farmers Market Promotion Program, trying to bring it to a level where it can serve a majority of our people.
So, again, I ask for the support of the membership on the rule, and I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.