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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. CHU. Mr. Chair, I rise in strong opposition to the underlying bill where the House GOP guts critical food assistance programs that help America's low-income and less fortunate families at a time when they need it the most. This is yet another chapter in the Republican attack on working families to give handouts to special interests. First they came after seniors who rely on Medicare, and now they're coming after our young children and their mothers.

Millions of Americans are now struggling to get through the worst economy since the Great Depression, and America's food assistance programs are proving to be an essential safety net for the jobless and low-income families of America. At a time when the need is greater than it's been in generations, Congress should be reaffirming our commitment to helping these needy families, not pulling the rug out from under them. But alarmingly, that's just what the Republican Agriculture appropriations bill does.

This bill slashes funding for the nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children by $686 million. WIC is a program that provides low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children with nutritious foods and improved access to health care. This funding is critical to ensuring America's new mothers, babies, and young children are fed right and grow up to be healthy, happy kids. But these slash-and-burn cuts completely end food assistance for up to 350,000 low-income women and children nationwide. Republicans, take the target off these kids.

Now let's distinguish between wasteful spending and investments that help the less fortunate get back on their feet. How can anyone say that WIC is wasteful when it serves nearly 10 million people each year for less than $100 per person? To some, these dollars may not sound like much, but they mean all the difference for mothers like Amanda.

Amanda was blessed with three children after she was told she couldn't even have one. But working in the food industry simply wasn't enough to support a family and certainly not one with as many needs as Amanda's. She has one son with disabilities, another that was born prematurely, and a third that requires special formula. All these demands quickly stretched her finances and her time. She couldn't afford the basics for her baby, like cereal, peanut butter, milk, and juice, much less the special formula that kept her son healthy. She was struggling to get by. But with WIC's help, she was able to make ends meet and even found time to get her bachelor's and master's through online classes while raising her kids. Now she is a registered nurse working on her Ph.D. And it was taking that first step to join WIC that helped keep her children healthy and helped her make a better life for her family. We should be investing in Amanda and her children, the future of our country, not leaving them to fend for themselves.

But instead of helping build a stronger American workforce for our future, the Republicans are providing more breaks so Big Oil can line their pockets. This same bill blocks efforts to rein in oil speculators that are manipulating the energy markets at the expense of American families at the pump. And, in fact, in April, Goldman Sachs found that this type of unregulated speculation adds over 20 percent to the price of oil, and that's why our gasoline prices are going sky high.

So what was the Republican reaction to this? They slashed $30 million in funding from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission which would stop this illegal speculation in the oil markets. So, as they gut funding from struggling mothers and tiny babies like this, Republicans are keeping gas prices high and pouring more profit into Big Oil's coffers.

We cannot balance the Nation's budget on the backs of everyday Americans just so that Big Oil can make big profits. Stop these cruel cuts to women, children, and infants.


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