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Public Statements

Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. KINGSTON. I wanted to make a few notes on it. I appreciate my friend for offering it, and I think he's raised some very serious philosophical questions, particularly about Pub.L. 490, the foreign food program.

I wanted to point out we have reduced that by 31 percent in this account, but we've also reduced the Multifamily Housing Revitalization Account, as he's well aware, but his amendment would actually increase that 10 times. It's at $11 million, and he would bring that up to $111 million. The highest funding level for that was in FY 2010 at $43 million, and so we have been ratcheting it down using a voucher program but feel that it was overfunded.

The Rural Business Program Account right now is about $64 million, so this amendment almost doubles that. It doesn't quite double it. But there again, we have brought that account down from a high of $97 million; and with his amendment, it would go up to $164 million. These two accounts would go to higher levels than they historically had. And in contrast, the PL 480, the foreign food program, is at one of the lower levels that it has been at. So I have to say to my friend that I'm sorry to reluctantly oppose you, but we are going to oppose the amendment at this point.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. KINGSTON. I think Dr. Broun has raised a lot of good points in terms of our financial future. In America today, for every dollar we spend, 40 cents is borrowed. The national debt right now is 95 percent of the GDP. Clearly, we have to make some very difficult choices ahead. And that's why, in this committee mark, we actually have reduced WIC funding already $686 million.

Now, these numbers aren't random. WIC participation in 2010 was 9.2 million; in 2011, it's 8.9 million. Our committee mark for FY 2012 contemplates a participation level of 8.3 million. However, if the economy does not improve and the number goes back up, with contingency funds, we have enough money to fund a participation level of over 9 million.

But it's very difficult, Mr. Chairman, because, as we said many times during yesterday's debate, the only budget that has actually passed either House is the Ryan budget, and our 302(b) allocation funding level comes from that budget. The President's own budget failed in the Senate 97-0. The Democrat leadership in the Senate is unable to pass a budget. They're not trying to pass a budget.

So using the 302(b) allocation which we have, we have come up with these numbers, not done in random, not done with any recklessness at all. We're trying to be very careful to make sure no one falls through the crack.

But because this is a delicate card house, I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. KINGSTON. I want to thank my colleague from North Carolina for putting this discussion on the table, because I think that it is important for us to look at the WIC program and make sure we are doing everything as efficiently and effectively as possible and we are putting the money in the right direction.

We had a very thorough, about a 6-hour debate about WIC yesterday. It is a delicate card house that we are trying to balance with our committee mark. But I think the more sunshine we have, not just on WIC, but on other Federal feeding programs, I think the better product we are going to come up with. So she and I have had some discussions on this. We are going to continue to have discussions on it. But I wanted to say I think it is a good debate to be having, although I am not supportive of the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. KINGSTON. Number one, we have actually reduced this account 31 percent. Again, as I have said many times, passing an appropriation bill that is building a card house, there's a delicate balance. I have got my friend, Mr. McGovern, who believes that we've cut too much. I've got my friend, Dr. Broun, who believes we haven't cut enough. And so we're trying to move this legislation.

I wanted to talk a little bit about PL-480 and say a couple of things. Number one, there is a national security interest in it. This is not about international charity alone. We do have an interest. America needs to be engaged around the world. When there is a natural disaster or manmade disaster, if we're not there, who will be there? And this is very important. My friend Mr. Dicks is here, former chairman of the HAC-D Committee, and knows that in terms of the national defense, we have soldiers right now as I speak in 60 different countries around the globe. Now, they are engaged for a reason. It's not a job-creation program. They're keeping an eye on national security interests.

If you travel in Africa or travel in South America right now, you'll see a new player that was not there 10 years ago, and that is the country of China. China is not necessarily an immediate threat to us, but it is a concern to us. China is rising as a military force and certainly as an economic source, and they are engaged all over the globe. Often our international programs, including food programs, keep us engaged and gives us an opportunity to have some doors open which we would not ordinarily have.

America provides 57 percent of the food aid in the world, followed by the EU at 27 percent and Japan at 6 percent. Right now, China is not a major player. The oil-rich Middle East countries certainly aren't major players. But it is about engagement. And it's interesting that we have a balance between developmental aid and emergency aid. Because if there is a Haitian disaster, we're the first on the ground trying to get food to the people. But we need to also be there with developmental aid to make sure that these countries are independent and that these countries do know how to grow their own food and have their own resources.

So I just want to emphasize again that this program has been trimmed already 31 percent, and it seems to me the balance that will get this bill over to the Senate so that we can negotiate further on it. We are in many, many different countries around the world.

With that, I yield to the gentleman from Arizona, Dr. Gosar.

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Mr. KINGSTON. I rise in support of the Lummis amendment. I am disappointed that she is planning to withdraw it and that we will not be having a vote on it. We had a vote on it in full committee. It was actually Mr. Moran's amendment that pulled it out. I did not support the gentleman from Virginia's amendment because I believe there is a lot of emotion that goes on when we are dealing with a horse. It still is a private property issue, a personal property issue, and while I do not own horses, I have family members who own horses. I know that you do have to have someplace to move the horse on to when it ages out on you.

It is very emotional in America. We look down at other nations that eat horses, but I have eaten horse before. In Kazakhstan I ate horse, and it wasn't bad. But we as Americans, we have an obesity problem, so we can pick and choose what we want to eat and what we don't want to eat, and people feel like, well, we are too good to be eating horses. I understand that, but the rest of the world does eat horses and I think, frankly, that is a different discussion, as my friend from Virginia knows. But I wish we were having a vote on it.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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