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Mr. BACA. Madam Chair, I rise today in strong opposition to the underlying bill--H.R. 2112--the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Act.
With continued unemployment and high home foreclosure rates--these are tough economic times for Americans everywhere.
We all understand that our debt and deficit are significant issues--that we must begin to address with intelligent spending cuts.
But it is essential that we reduce the deficit in a way that is consistent with our American values--and not on the backs of impoverished women, children, and seniors.
The Agriculture Appropriations bill we are considering today undermines the food security of the American people.
In my district--in California's Inland Empire--my constituents face a 16 percent unemployment rate; and a food insecurity rate of almost 22 percent.
Food banks throughout California are reporting a 30 to 40 percent increase in the number of people needing food assistance.
This is the wrong time to cut nutrition benefits for struggling American families.
Unfortunately--the bill the House is set to consider--takes food off the table for low-income women, children, and seniors.
Cuts $650 million from WIC--causing hundreds of thousands of women and children to lose benefits;
Cuts $50 million from TEFAP--forcing struggling familes to face empty shelves at the food bank;
Cuts $38 million from the Commodity Supplemental Foods Program--leaving thousands of seniors without help; and
Cuts $2 billion from the SNAP reserve fund--at a time when a record 44 million plus Americans need this assistance.
Sadly, this bill is just the next chapter in the Repubilcan Congress's assault on middle class families.
Already this year--Republicans have voted to end Medicare as we know it.
And they've voted to cut thousands of jobs in order to give tax breaks to the ultra-rich, the big oil industries, and companies that ship jobs overseas.
But with this bill--we may have sunk to a new low.
It is wrong to dismantle the programs that our most vulnerable Americans rely on--in order to pay for $45 billion in tax breaks for millionaires.
If we got rid of tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires for one week--we would save enough to pay for the entire WIC program for a year.
During the last Farm Bill--in 2008--I served as Chair of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition.
I am proud of the work we did to improve SNAP and other federal nutrition programs.
These improvements helped feed 38 million hungry Americans.
We must not turn back the clock.
Let's focus on the real priorities of the American people--and stop these misguided funding cuts.
I urge my colleagues to protect the health of working families--and vote ``no'' on the underlying bill.
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