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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Chair, I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. CLARKE of New York. I rise today in opposition to the underlying bill, H.R. 2112, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012, and the cuts to the WIC program.

We want to talk about right to life. WIC is a right to life. It's an essential program that offers nutrition, education, breast feeding support, referrals, and a variety of nutritious foods to low-income pregnant, breast feeding and postpartum women, infants, and children up to the age of 5. The program is administered through county health departments, hospitals, mobile clinics, community centers, schools, public housing sites, migrant health centers and camps, and Indian health service facilities.

In New York State, the WIC program provides services to nearly one-half million low-income women, infants, and children through 103 local WIC agencies statewide. Local agencies such as Brooklyn's Healthy Start have provided WIC services to low-income women in my district for more than 20 years. It is the work of the Brooklyn Healthy Start and other WIC programs who are on the front lines that are fighting against this country's already shamefully high infant mortality rate. Decreasing funding to WIC programs will undoubtedly increase my district's infant mortality rate and infant mortality rates across this Nation.

Given the spike in demand for WIC and other nutrition programs like SNAP and food stamps, school meals, summer, after-school, and child care food programs, it is unconscionable that the Republican-led Congress is seeking to cut these critical programs that help seniors, children, and low-income people who aspire to be part of our Nation's middle class.

First, Republicans went after our Nation's seniors who rely on Medicare, and now they're going after the children and mothers who rely on our social compact for food assistance. If we got rid of tax breaks for multimillionaires and billionaires for just 1 week, we would pay for the entire WIC program for a year.

It is my belief that cuts to the WIC program are based on an ideological political rationale that defies human understanding and not an honest desire to cut deficits. This Agriculture appropriations bill continues to protect tax cuts for multimillionaires while having poor women and children stuck to pay the dear price.

WIC has been shown to improve the health of pregnant women, new mothers, and infants and children. The food provided through WIC is a good source of essential nutrients that are often missing from the diets of women and young children. WIC participants have longer, healthier pregnancies and fewer premature births.

We all understand the need to reduce the deficit, but we must do so in a way that is consistent with our shared values. It is a moral imperative that we look after those who are forgotten, marginalized in our society. In the words of a prolific, poetic philosopher, Kanye West, ``How could you be so heartless?'' Republicans shouldn't destroy programs upon which citizens depend on the most in exchange to pay for $45 billion in tax breaks for multimillionaires. Shame.

I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill and protect low-income women, infants, and children.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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