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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington DC

AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008

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Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Let me rise in strong opposition to the gentleman from Texas's amendment, and I am hoping that the gentleman might engage me in a brief question.

These grants assist in the development of essential community facilities in rural towns of up to 20,000 in population. We talked about them in great detail in a number of hearings on the Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee, and witness after witness suggested that these Federal funds, in conjunction with local funds, made it possible for them to advance the idea of health conversations and broader conversations about fire stations and hospitals and purchasing ambulances and other critical community facilities.

I was going to ask the gentleman if he wouldn't mind engaging in just a brief colloquy with me. A brief question: Does the gentleman support the President's budget?

I yield to the gentleman from Texas.

Mr. HENSARLING. No, I do not.

Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. The gentleman does not support the President's budget. Well, that is important, because let us be clear that the gentleman's amendment is proposing $16.8 million more than the President is proposing in this program.

The President has zeroed this program out. The committee sought to increase the number in this program. And if the gentleman's amendment returns it to the 2007 level, the 2007 level is $16.8 million more.

I encourage you to vote against the Hensarling amendment and support the Community Facilities program.

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Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Let's put a face on this program. In Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, no company had invested in providing broadband delivery to the residents until a company called Bitsmart applied for a USDA Community Connect Grant. 770 people live in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho. Now, Bitsmart has established wireless Internet accessibility and availability, an integrated system connecting law enforcement, health care providers and school and government offices.

The USDA Rural Development mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. To level fund a program that connects rural Americans to the rest of our country would be a moral disgrace. We are under an obligation in this Congress to bring rural communities, where large corporations and medium-sized corporations do not invest in them, into the information age and make them part of our more perfect union.

I encourage my colleagues to reject the Hensarling amendment.

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Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I just want to stand in defense of the subcommittee and its work. We tried to be as responsive to members on this committee as possible, given that many members of the committee do not understand the specific details of every congressional district. But this is what Congressman Artur Davis had to say:

"Auburn University is seeking funding to continue research on endemic and emerging pathogens of catfish. Because the prevalence of catfish diseases constitutes $90-100 million in annual losses for catfish farmers, it is important to prevent these diseases to ensure a healthy national food supply and a successful economic development activity. This funding will allow Auburn University to conduct outreach to farmers and ensure that these vaccines make it into the field to protect the food supply of the American people. Earlier research from this project has already led to the commercialization of two vaccines that are now helping in the reduction of these disease losses.''

Mr. Chairman, I want to thank Mr. Rogers, and I also want to thank Congressman Artur Davis for looking out for the interests of this vital industry in their State. The committee did its work and honored their request. We should vote down the gentleman's amendment.


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