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Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BUTTERFIELD. I have an amendment at the desk.

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Mr. BUTTERFIELD. Mr. Chairman, I rise to propose an amendment to the nutrition title of this bill. I will mention at the outset that my amendment has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as budget neutral and not adding to direct spending.

Mr. Chairman, my amendment is very simple. It will expand the items available for purchase under the SNAP program to include items of personal hygiene.

Historically, the purpose of the SNAP program has been to provide financial assistance to poor individuals to purchase food. Nearly 50 million people in this country currently rely on SNAP benefits to provide food for themselves and their families. No one wants to depend on SNAP for one's next meal, but we have a responsibility to our neighbors to provide and care for them in their time of need; but for the poor, need does not just stop at food.

While SNAP currently provides financial assistance to purchase certain types of food, there is no mechanism to help needy people purchase personal hygiene items like toothbrushes and toothpaste and toilet paper and feminine items, among other items used for their personal care, items that they cannot afford. My amendment expands SNAP-eligible purchases to include personal hygiene items to be determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.

Ensuring that poor families have access to personal hygiene products is the right thing to do. Giving families the ability to purchase personal hygiene products will save us money in the long run. Poor personal hygiene can have far-reaching consequences on an individual's health and result in more trips to the emergency room, and it increases uncompensated care. Research indicates that a lack of proper dental hygiene can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, can exacerbate diabetes and kidney disease and, for expectant mothers, can increase the risk of delivering a pre-term, low-birth-weight baby.

Mr. Chairman, at a time when we are coming out of this recession and when State governments across the country, like the one in my home State of North Carolina, are refusing to expand Medicaid, now is the time to give our most vulnerable citizens some flexibility to buy products that will improve their long-term health. It is especially critical as we stand here today to debate this $20.5 billion cut to the SNAP program.

So, Chairman Lucas and all of those responsible for this bill, thank you for the work that you have done.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. BUTTERFIELD. How much time is remaining, Mr. Chairman?

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Mr. BUTTERFIELD. I yield such time as she may consume to the gentlelady from Wisconsin (Ms. Moore).

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Mr. BUTTERFIELD. Mr. Chairman, I'm going to ask my colleagues if they would look very closely at this amendment. It's not a radical amendment. It simply empowers those recipients of SNAP to buy very simple and basic items that are related to nutrition, such as toilet paper and toothpaste and toothbrushes and the like.

I ask my colleagues to please allow an up-or-down vote on this and to vote ``aye'' on the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. BUTTERFIELD. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.

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