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Ms. WATERS. Madam Chair, I rise in opposition to the underlying bill, H.R. 2112, the Republican Appropriations bill for Agriculture, Food Safety and Nutrition Programs for the coming fiscal year. This bill drastically underfunds critical nutrition programs for hungry people throughout the United States.
This bill is yet another chapter in the Republican attack on working families.
First, the Republicans tried to cut benefits for seniors who rely on Medicare.
Then, they went after low-income families who rely on Medicaid.
They tried to dismantle health care reform and leave people with pre-existing conditions at the mercy of profit-hungry insurance companies.
Now, they're coming after hungry people who rely on food assistance.
The bill cuts funding for the Women, Infants, and Children, WIC, nutrition program by more than $650 million below the fiscal year 2011 level. The WIC program provides nutritious foods, counseling on healthy eating habits, and health care referrals to about 9 million low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children under five. WIC is an effective program with a long history of bipartisan support. For the past 15 years, Congresses and Administrations of both parties have always provided enough funds for WIC to serve all women, infants and children who qualify--until now. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the funding cut in this bill would force WIC to turn away between 200,000 and 350,000 eligible low-income women and young children next year, including 32,000 to 56,000 women and children in my home state of California.
This bill also cuts funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food program, CSFP, by 22 percent below this year's funding level. CSFP is an agricultural commodity program that provides nutritious food packages to about 604,000 low-income people each month, 96 percent of whom are senior citizens who earn less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level. The Republicans' proposed funding cuts would result in loss of food for at least 130,000 low-income seniors.
The bill cuts funding to The Emergency Food Assistance Program, TEFAP, by $51 million and cuts TEFAP administrative funding for food storage and distribution by 23 percent. TEFAP provides nutritious food commodities to low-income Americans in need of short-term hunger relief. TEFAP commodities are distributed by organizations like soup kitchens, food banks, homeless shelters, and faith-based food pantries at churches, mosques and synagogues. These cuts would force many local organizations to turn away hungry people.
Finally, the bill underfunds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP. SNAP provides monthly benefits to 44 million low-income Americans using a grocery debit card. The Administration requested a $5 billion reserve fund for SNAP to assure that there would be adequate resources to help needy people in the event of continuing high unemployment or unexpected increases in demand from events like natural disasters. The Republicans cut the reserve fund by $2 billion.
Meanwhile, the Republican budget extends the Bush-era tax cuts beyond their expiration in 2012 and cuts the top individual tax rate down to 25 percent from 35 percent. According to the Center for Tax Justice, the Republican budget cuts taxes for the richest 1 percent of Americans by 15 percent while raising taxes for the lowest income 20 percent of Americans by 12 percent.
Madam Chair, if we got rid of the tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires for one week, we could pay for the entire WIC program for a year.
I urge my colleagues to stand up for working families--not millionaires and billionaires! Vote ``no'' on this bill.
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Ms. WATERS. Mr. Chair, I rise in support of the amendment by Representative DeLauro to H.R. 2112, the FY 2012 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which would fully fund the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). By gutting funding for the CFTC, the underlying bill would fulfill the Republican agenda of dismantling the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.
As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, I am very concerned that in the absence of this amendment, we will continue to see the same unregulated, unchecked, and unmitigated speculation in the derivatives market that led to the financial collapse, the impacts of which included:
Over $10 trillion in household wealth destruction, with the average household losing 23 percent of its stored wealth;
Nearly 10 million lost jobs;
Wage losses of approximately $3,250 per household;
12 million expected foreclosures; and
A 30 percent peak to trough decline in home prices.
Moreover, by underfunding the CFTC, this bill would contribute to the high gas prices that are already harming our economy and our constituents. The CFTC wants to set position limits on speculative trading, including speculation on gasoline. Without adequate funding, the CFTC will not be able to do this.
We know that consumers felt the pain of runaway speculation at the pump. According to a recent poll by the Associated Press, 71 percent of Americans said rising prices will cause some hardship for them and their families, including 41 percent who called it a serious hardship. While gasoline prices have recently declined--several weeks ago the average cost of a gallon of gasoline in Los Angeles was $4.27--if speculation on gasoline rises to the levels it was several weeks ago, gasoline prices will shoot back up.
According to Goldman Sachs, speculation on gasoline alone added $20 to the price of a barrel of oil. The CFTC has a proposed rule that would prevent this type of abuse. But by underfunding the CFTC, H.R. 2112 would stop that rule, an action that will ensure that our constituents continue to feel pain at the pump.
As you can see, Mr. Chair, it is our constituents who suffer the consequences of unregulated derivatives. Underfunding the CFTC is not only irresponsible, it is a slap in the face to the taxpaying Americans that bailed out the institutions that cost them their retirement funds, their jobs, and their homes.
This is why I support the amendment by the gentlewoman from Connecticut. If her amendment is not adopted, passage today of H.R. 2112 will come at the expense of these Americans, who will see higher oil prices as a direct result of this bill.
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