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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 2744, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern), pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only.

(Mr. PUTNAM asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 303 is an open rule providing for consideration of H.R. 2744, making appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006.

According to the rule general debate shall be confined to the bill and shall not exceed one hour equally divided and controlled by the chairman and the ranking minority member of the Committee on Appropriations.

The rule waives all points of order against consideration of the bill, and waives all points of order against provisions in the bill for failure to comply with clause 2 of rule XXI, prohibiting unauthorized appropriations or legislative provisions in an appropriations bill, except as specified in the resolution.

Under the rules of the House, the bill shall be read for amendment by paragraph. After general debate, the bill shall be considered for amendment under the 5-minute rule.

The resolution authorizes the Chair to accord priority in recognition to Members who have preprinted their amendments in the Congressional Record and provides one motion to recommit with or without instructions.

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to present for consideration this open rule for the agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2006. As with most all appropriations bills, the Committee on Rules has once again afford the entire Chamber an opportunity to offer any amendment to this legislation that complies with the rules of the House.

Members of the House are permitted to come to the floor and bring forth any idea or change they wish to see in this legislation. I am pleased that rule provides a chance for all of our Members to express their views on how our Nation should prioritize spending in this area.

Article 1, section 9 of the United States Constitution says, ``No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.''

Our Founding Fathers established the role of the Committee on Appropriations to ensure that our Nation's spending is subject to oversight and approval by its elected representatives. The committee plays an important role in determining the wise use of taxpayer funds.

I want to commend the gentleman from Texas (Chairman Bonilla) and his subcommittee for the tremendously difficult work this year in bringing the spending bill under its budget allocation. The Congressional budget is an important tool of the Congress, allowing us to establish priorities for the coming fiscal year. It is always encouraging to see the budget and the appropriations process work together in tandem, allowing Congress to ensure that our government acts in a fiscally responsible manner.

The Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies of the Committee on Appropriations has reported out a bill that provides important resources to ensure that our Nation's farmers and ranchers remain competitive in the 21st century. The legislation enhances our ability to safeguard our food supply and addresses the nutritional needs of women and children and the most disadvantaged in our country. The bill also works to maintain and build fiscal discipline.

H.R. 2744 continues to fund important projects at a level consistent with fiscal year 2005, allocating nearly $17 billion plus $83 billion in total mandatory spending. At the same time, it addresses needs such as the protection of health and safety. In an effort to combat harmful pests and disease that threaten America's food supply, the Food Safety and Inspection Service funding is increased by $20 million over last year, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service activities are funded at $16 million above last year's level, for a total of $829 million.

In addition, the Farm Service Agency's salaries and expenses are funded at the President's request of $1 billion, allowing the continued efficient delivery of farm and disaster programs that are so critical to wide swaths of our great Nation.

To unlock much-needed advances in agricultural research and allow American farmers to have the tools necessary to produce a safe and wholesome food supply, the Agricultural Research Service is funded at over $1.1 billion.

Additionally, USDA's Conservation Operations activities are increased by $26 million over the President's request, which allows farmers and ranchers to achieve important conservation and environmental goals as our Nation's farmers and ranchers are the original environmentalists in this country.

This appropriations bill is an excellent example of how Congress can attain fiscal discipline and still fund our priorities. H.R. 2744 funds programs over the President's budget request, increasing funding in strategic areas while maintaining a funding level consistent with funding for fiscal year 2005.

I am impressed with the work of the subcommittee, and I am certain the appropriations process this year will serve as a model of how we can achieve responsible and responsive funding simultaneously.

Mr. Speaker, I represent a congressional district in Florida that is among the top in the Nation in production of certain agricultural goods. I want to personally thank the gentleman from Texas (Chairman BONILLA) and the Subcommittee on Agriculture of the Committee on Appropriations and the subcommittee staff for their continued commitment and attention to the needs of all of American agriculture and Florida in particular, especially in the aftermath of the hurricanes that devastated much of Florida's agriculture last summer and fall. The Committee on Appropriations' work is greatly appreciated.

I also wish to thank the gentleman from Texas (Chairman BONILLA) for his attention and dedication to the continued needs resulting from invasive pests and diseases that are affecting a number of crops throughout our country, including citrus canker affecting our citrus industry in Florida. I know that all of America's farmers and ranchers and consumers deeply appreciate the subcommittee's tireless efforts to assist our agricultural community.

I urge Members to support this fair and open rule and the underlying bill.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Massachusetts' (Mr. McGovern) comments about hunger remind me of an old proverb. ``When there is food, there are many problems. When there is no food, there is only one problem.'' The gentleman speaks very passionately about that issue. It reminds me how fortunate we are that, because of the productivity of the American farmer and rancher, that Americans spend less of their disposable income on food than any other industrialized nation and our greatest threats in terms of childhood illnesses is obesity, not hunger. And I would not trade our problem for anybody else's.

It is clearly a huge issue. I am proud of the work the appropriators have done in allocating $900 million through the emergency bill for those who were ravaged by the tsunami that struck southeast Asia.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 5 minutes to the distinguished gentlewoman from West Virginia (Mrs. Capito).


Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Respecting the gentleman's right to get off his chest whatever he chooses to get off of his chest, I would point out that the appropriations process is far ahead of schedule, and we are on track to complete the program of passing the bills through the House before July 4.

I would also point out our appreciation to the gentleman for his support for the bill and recognition of the hard work the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Bonilla) and his subcommittee have put in to an outstanding agriculture appropriation bill, and appreciate the fact that, despite his misgivings about the process, he likes the work product that this committee has produced.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

I thank the gentleman from Massachusetts for his comments. His passion for ending hunger in this country is laudable. This is a fair rule. It is an open rule. With the exception of those amendments that are legislating on an appropriations bill, anyone can come down here and have the opportunity to make their case for changes. So while Members have been here expressing frustrations about certain policy issues, there has been widespread agreement, including from the gentleman on the Rules Committee and including from the distinguished ranking member of the Committee on Appropriations and the ranking member of the subcommittee. There has been a general agreement of support for the underlying bill that the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Bonilla) has produced. I am glad to see that type of bipartisan cooperation that has not been given the credit that is due here in Washington.

This is a great bill for America's resources and for the conservation element that America's farmers and ranchers are so vital in participating in. It provides the necessary framework for disaster programs and commodity programs that allow us to continue to provide the safest, cheapest, most wholesome food supply in abundance in the world with a very small percentage of our population; and it allows us to continue to be in the forefront of technology and research and development, continuing to be on the cutting edge of having greater production, greater yields on fewer acres in the most environmentally conscious manner possible, in addition to dealing with our nutrition issues, our women, infant and children issues and school lunch programs and the other important issues for our underserved in this country.

It is a great bill, Mr. Speaker. I encourage this entire House to support the rule and the underlying bill.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the previous question on the resolution.


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