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

Floor Speech

By:  Jack Kingston
Date: June 14, 2011
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KINGSTON. Madam Chair, I yield myself 5 minutes.

I recommend to the Committee H.R. 2112, the House Agriculture, FDA, and CFTC funding bill for fiscal year 2012, and I want to make a few remarks about it.

Number one and foremost, because a lot of people are very concerned about the allocation for this bill and the funding level, I want to remind everybody of a couple of things: Number one, our national debt is now 95 percent of the GDP. It's $14 trillion. For every dollar we spend, 40 cents is borrowed.

Now, both parties have fingerprints all over this. We have all overspent. For example, for 8 years under President Bush the national debt increased $3 1/2 trillion. Way too much. And yet, in contrast, in just 3 years President Obama has added to the national debt $5 trillion, an increase of 56 percent. And so much of this is due and owed to foreign countries, and much of it to China. Can you imagine what kind of deal Communist China, a major competitor of ours, would impose upon us if they forced us to restructure our debt? We have to do it ourselves.

Now, the House has passed the Ryan budget, which many people oppose, and I understand that. But I want to point out the President of the United States' budget failed in the Senate 97-0. Harry Reid voted against the President's budget. And in the House, the Congressional Black Caucus offered a budget that failed. The Congressional Progressive Caucus offered a budget and it failed. The Republican Study Committee offered a budget and it failed. The Democrat Caucus offered a budget and it failed. In the Senate, budget plans were offered by Mr. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Mr. Paul of Kentucky; both failed. The only budget that has passed either body is the Ryan budget, and that's what we are looking at today, those numbers.

Now, I understand there's a lot of reluctance to make some of these tough decisions. Today in America 61 million people receive monthly government checks. That's anything from welfare to Medicare to farm payments to veteran retirement to Social Security--lots of people receiving lots of money. These programs are enormously popular, and they're deeply integrated into our economic system and culture. Therefore, reforming these programs is very, very difficult. And to further complicate things, 47 percent of American households do not pay income taxes. For them the status quo is working just fine.

So addressing these things is very difficult. And if you look at the spending pattern in the last several years, it's frightening: March, 2008, $29 billion to bail out Bear Stearns; May of 2008, a $168 billion stimulus package from the Bush administration; in July of 2008, $200 billion to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; then in November of 2008, $700 billion for TARP, or the Wall Street bailout; and then in January of 2009, $878 billion for the Obama stimulus program, which, by the way, Madam Chair, was to keep us from getting to 8 percent unemployment.

Now, we're hovering between 9 and 10 percent, and I don't need to remind you but this is the 1-year anniversary of the ``summer of recovery.'' There has not been any recovery. We're still looking for those jobs. Spending our way into prosperity does not work. If it did work, we would be having prosperous times right now.

So the Ryan budget for this bill is $17.25 billion, our reduction of $2.7 billion, approximately a 13 1/2 percent decrease in spending, and yet, despite this, because of the mandatory spending portion of this bill, the bill actually has a net increase, mostly driven by food stamps and the school lunch program, which have gone up about $7 billion between the two of them. We still have a net increase in this bill.

Now, there's going to be a lot of discussion on lots of different accounts, and one of them is the WIC account, the Women, Infants, and Children account, something that I'm very concerned about, something that all of our committee has always supported on a bipartisan basis. But last year, there was some money taken out of it, $562 million, to settle a lawsuit which had nothing to do with school nutrition. A lot of the critics are going to be saying WIC has never been cut. Last year, the Obama administration cut WIC $562 million.

The CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. KINGSTON. Madam Chair, I yield myself 2 additional minutes.

USDA numbers show that WIC participation has dropped 300,000 from February 2010 to February 2011, yet we are still funding it at 8.7 million people. We do not intend for anybody to fall through the cracks. If there is a shortage, there are three discretionary accounts that we can draw upon: a contingency fund of $125 million; a carryover fund, which is in excess of $350 million; and the Secretary's interchange authority, which is $210 million.

There are a lot of things in WIC we can do to improve to make sure that children don't fall through the cracks. Right now, for example, 49 percent of the kids in America participate in WIC. Do we really believe 49 percent are impoverished? Perhaps it's oversubscribed. Maybe we can work with the WIC folks on that.

We had a very healthy debate about WIC overhead, and the USDA has given us conflicting numbers on that. We're planning to meet with the USDA and find out what the real story is. I understand there may be amendments to say let's all agree what an overhead limit should be for WIC and then not spend money on overhead for that.

We are concerned about these things, but I want to close with this. Today, in America, a child under 5 years old is eligible for 12 Federal programs. After that age, he or she is eligible for 9 Federal feeding programs. At 65, you're eligible for 5 different Federal feeding programs. We want to make sure no one falls through the cracks and no one goes hungry, yet at the same time, is it possible that some folks are eligible for not just three meals a day but maybe four and five?

And can we enter into that discussion without a lot of finger-pointing and a lot of emotion? Can we also talk about the fraud and the misuse and the administrative costs without a lot of screaming and hollering? I think we can. I look forward to that debate, and I recommend passage of this bill.


Mr. KINGSTON. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Chair, I wanted to respond to the discussion of the CFTC. It's very interesting to me that there are those Members of Congress who believe that bureaucrats control the price of oil. While bureaucrats certainly do have influence on the price of oil, if you're really concerned about the price of oil, you need to drill for it. It's pretty simple--increase the supply.

Folks forget that Alaska is twice the size of Texas. The Arctic Wildlife Reserve area is the size of South Carolina. The proposed exploration area is 2,000 acres. It's about the size of National Airport here. We're talking about a business card on a basketball court. Yet you hear over and over again from people--who, incidentally, do drive fossil fueled cars--that we in America are inept and unable to drill for oil responsibly. If you want to decrease the price, you've got to increase the supply, and there is no better way than to drill your own oil.

Think about the absurdity of President Obama going down to Brazil and telling them, We want you to drill offshore. Apparently, the Brazilians are technologically more advanced than we are, and the President has much more of a comfort level with the people of Brazil than he apparently has with the people from Louisiana or from Texas or from Florida. He goes down to Brazil and says, Go ahead and drill offshore. We're going to lend you money, and by the way, we want to be your best customer.

Now, he never mentioned anything about the CFTC.

Let me tell you what Democrat Commissioner Michael Dunn said. This was, by the way, on January 1, 2011: ``To date, CFTC staff has been unable to find any reliable economic analysis to support the contention that excessive speculation is affecting the markets we regulate or that position limits will prevent excessive speculation.''

What I suggest to you, Madam Chair, is that the discussion of the CFTC and oil speculators is a red herring. The real issue that the Democrats have failed to address is that of drilling for oil in order to increase supply.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. KINGSTON. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to go back over this food situation. I and the gentleman from California, the ranking member, have had 11 hearings on this. We've had 11 hearings on the Agriculture bill, not on feeding programs specifically.

I want to again remind the Chair that this bill represents a net increase in funding, which is largely driven by the increase of $5.6 billion in food stamps and in the School Lunch Program of $1.5 billion. I also want to remind Members of the many Federal feeding programs that we have. For a 3-year-old child, there are 12 different feeding programs. For a 10-year-old child, there are nine different programs. For a 35-year-old, there are seven programs, and for a 65-year-old, there are five programs that people can apply for.

It is not the intention of this committee to let anyone fall through the cracks. The numbers that we have funded, for example, in WIC, contemplate what we believe is going to be the participation. Should that participation fluctuate, there are three contingency accounts that the USDA can access. It would certainly be our intention to have those accounts accessed before anyone fell through the cracks.

Now, I share in the frustration of the stimulus program that was supposed to create last year's summer of recovery. I'm sorry it did not work, because I would like to be out celebrating with the President. Yet the stimulus program, which was supposed to keep unemployment below 8 percent, actually increased unemployment to the level of 10 percent. Now it's hovering a little bit above 9 percent.

The best thing in the world would be to have prosperity, and I believe that we can get there. One way we should get there is by drilling our own oil because, if you want to keep food prices down, you've got to keep the cost of distribution down, which would be something, I'd hope, that we could work together on.

I also think we need fundamental tax reform because I know one of the things that some on the committee have talked about are some of the tax loopholes taken advantage of by certain companies. I agree with them. That's why I support the Fair Tax, which is a consumption tax. It would actually give a tax credit to the poor so that it does not disproportionately hurt them, but it would close all the loopholes. That would be something else that we could do that would create jobs in America.

Finally, the excessive bureaucratic regulations that our farmers and small businesses have to put up with is killing job creation. If we want to do something to help people get off dependency and get to independency, we need to decrease the size of government. This bill moves us in that direction.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. KINGSTON. I thank the gentleman from Indiana for yielding. I want to make a couple of points.

Number one, this bill increases food stamps by $5.6 billion. Now, somebody has said, But that's not as much as the President requested. Well, it is an increase of $5.6 billion. And I'm sorry, the President's crystal ball isn't always the best one. I don't need to remind you about last summer's celebration of recovery or whatever it was called. School nutrition goes up $1.5 billion under this bill.

We did what has been done in the past with WIC. We fund the participation level that is anticipated. Last year, the Democrats voted to cut WIC funding by $562 million. I have got the votes right here for any Democrat who is not sure how he or she voted. I want to give you the vote. I will put it in the Record so everybody can have a chance to look at it because after a while, I have to wonder. I also have the vote record for extending the Bush tax cuts, which was signed by President Obama. I have the vote record for that. I want to say to some of my friends over there, I voted ``no'' on that. Very important.

This bill funds WIC at 8.3 million participants. Now, if it goes up to over 9 million, the contingency fund is there to cover that. The contingency fund for WIC alone is $350 million. It would have been higher, Mr. Chairman, but the Democrats voted to cut it $562 million last year for an unrelated account. Now, to quote one of the well-known Democrats, That's an inconvenient truth to some of the speakers here tonight. But it is very important.

It is not the intention of this bill to let anybody go hungry. And any time the Bible is quoted on the floor of the House, I think it's a good thing. But I think there are some lessons in there that if there is a target on children's backs, perhaps it's the fact that our Nation is over $14 trillion in debt; and for every dollar we spend, 40 cents is borrowed, much of that from China. And who do you think is going to pay that back? It's not going to be the generations who are making the decisions. It's going to be the children.

So what our challenge is, Mr. Chairman, is to balance the fiscal need with the heart, and I believe that this budget very carefully does that. It increases food stamps $5.6 billion. It increases school lunches $1.5 billion. It funds WIC at a level of 8.3 million and has a contingency that will cover over 9 million participants. So for all the drama that we're hearing--and

it is some very good rhetoric and some very good drama, but it's not accurate.

Now we could be talking about the WIC overhead, the WIC administrative costs. We could be talking about the fraud in WIC. We could be talking about the coordination of feeding benefits. If a child is 3 years old in America, he or she is eligible for 12 different programs. At 10 years old, they're eligible for nine programs. At 65, they're eligible for five different feeding programs. Those are Federal programs. It does not mention any of the State or the local participation in programs that are out there. It doesn't mention any of the charitable organizations that are out there.

So, again, we're hearing lots of great rhetoric, lots of drama; but it's not accurate. These numbers are important for reasonable debate for people who are trying to balance the runaway spending in this country--a 56 percent increase in the national debt under President Obama--and the need to take care of the poor.

I want to say to my friend from Ohio (Mr. Kucinich), because I know he has been very consistent--and I do certainly agree that everybody here has passion and conviction and idealism, which I think we all need more of--I voted with you, Mr. Kucinich, last week. I think we are spending a lot of money in Libya. And those are things that are very important for us to be debating on the floor of the House before the President of the United States--of either party--goes and obligates billions of dollars in a new overseas contingency operation. We need to be discussing that. So I would say, put that on the table.


Mr. KINGSTON. It is interesting. I want to read this amendment, because I have heard some comments about this bill isn't serious or whatever. Well, look at this amendment. I don't think you could call it serious. It says on page 2, line 14, ``after the dollar amount insert increased by $136 million, reduced by $136 million.''

The effect of this amendment is nothing. It is a legitimate vehicle on a parliamentary rule to discuss something. But if there is a problem with the CFTC not doing its job or being unable to do the job because of this, there should be an amendment that addresses that. This is not an amendment. This is just a discussion. But I will enter into the discussion.

First of all, I want to quote Michael Dunn. He is a Democrat member of the commission. Here is what he had to say as far as oil speculation goes. ``The CFTC staff has been unable to find any reliable economic analysis to support the contention that excessive speculation is affecting the markets we regulate.''

That is from the Democrat member of the CFTC. If I quoted a Republican member and they said the same thing, then the Democrats would be crying, no, no, no. But that was the quote of the Democrat member of the commission.

Now, why are the Democrats so interested in blaming high energy costs on the CFTC? It is because they have opposed our own development of energy domestically. We do not want to explore for oil in Alaska, but the President of the United States goes down to Brazil and apparently understands or in his view believes that they are maybe technologically superior to Americans, that they can drill for oil off the shore of Brazil, and they can do a better job than the good people in Louisiana or Texas or Florida can. So the President of the United States, a Democrat, goes down to Brazil and says, drill for oil here, and we will lend you the money, and we want to be your best customer.

Now, if we want to decrease the price of domestic energy, then we need to explore for our own energy, instead of this phony argument that somehow--and, by the way, I am not sure, but I think Goldman Sachs is a huge supporter of President Obama. In fact, I think they were his second-largest contributor. I am not 100 percent sure on that. I am sure somebody over here might be very quick to correct me if I am wrong.

But I know this: that I have heard over and over again that somehow Goldman Sachs is the problem with this bill. I wasn't listening to every single speech, but that was one of the things that we kept hearing. But if we want to decrease the cost of energy in the United States of America, you need to increase the supply and the production of domestic energy and get away from this, well, it is the CFTC is not getting enough money.

And I want to say this, which is very important about this budget number. The budget of the President of the United States, a Democrat, failed in the Senate, which is also run by the Democrats, by a vote of 97-0. Now, I keep hearing, not this bill, not here, not now. Well, where? The Ryan budget is the only budget that has passed either body. It has not passed the Senate. But the President's budget failed 97-0. So if the Democrats are concerned, then why aren't they working on a budget that is acceptable to them?

We had a number of budget votes here. None of them passed. There was one budget proposal, the RSC, Republican Study Committee budget that was Mr. Garrett's and Mr. Jordan's, and it failed because they felt the Ryan budget did not go far enough. But the Ryan budget did get a majority of votes. The President Obama budget did not. And what did the President and Harry Reid do when their budget failed? Nothing. They left. That was it. If they are concerned about funding for the CFTC and the USDA and the FDA, why aren't they working on a budget that is more acceptable? Isn't that what leadership is all about?

So what we are having here now is, because we won't explore for our own energy and we won't develop it, we are going to blame it on the CFTC's funding level. I think that this amendment, although it does nothing, I think we should move on to more serious discussions.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. KINGSTON. I thank the gentleman from Nebraska.

I just want to say I find it incredible that I'm hearing people say that the fault of the Wall Street meltdown was because of the CFTC's not doing its job. I cannot believe that the meltdown and the financial situation is now being attributed to the CFTC and, to avoid it, we have to put in more money for the CFTC.

I voted against the Wall Street bailout. The President of the United States voted for it as a Senator, and again as President he wanted part two of it. So I'm not buying that the Wall Street bailout--AIG was mentioned earlier. That was done by the Fed. The Bear Stearns bailout, that was done by the Fed. The bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that was done by the House Democrats.

So I don't need to be sitting here listening to people preach to me about bailouts and that the solution to lower gas prices is to fund a bureaucracy. It's a group that has been averaging about four regulations a year and between now and late summer 34 regulations.

I understand that those in the Big Government circles of Washington love more regulations, more government growth; but to say to the taxpayers that funding CFTC at a higher, unprecedented level is going to avoid the need for bailouts is ridiculous. And, again, Mr. Chairman, I'm somebody who has consistently voted against these bailouts and these stimulus programs.

I don't believe that government is the answer. I think the market still has the answer. I did not support the Dodd-Frank bill. What this is--a lot of it is just an overreach, more government telling people how to conduct their business.

Do I think there's a role for CFTC? Certainly I do. And can CFTC be effective? Yes. But their own Democrat member says, and I will quote again: ``The CFTC staff''--not his personal opinion but the CFTC staff, which is over 700--``has been unable to find any reliable economic analysis to support the contention that excessive speculation is affecting the markets we regulate.'' Now, that's not my opinion; that's what the Democrat commission member says the CFTC staff has reported.

Should we be concerned about speculation? Yes, we should. But I don't think it is fair for any Member of Congress to go back home to the taxpayers and say, I'm going to bring down the price at the pump because I have put millions of dollars into a Washington bureaucracy and they're really going to get tough on that Wall Street crowd now.

If we want to bring down the price of energy in America, we have to increase our supply. And I don't know of any other way to do it. Supply goes up and the cost goes down. If we want to help the consumers at the pump, we have got to explore and develop our own domestic energy resources. And discussion about CFTC funding comes second, third, fourth, fifth tier to that. So if the objective is to bring down the price of gas at the pump, let's don't pretend that increasing spending for the CFTC is going to achieve that.


Mr. KINGSTON. We are not in agreement on that. No, I did not support the Dodd-Frank bill, and I can tell you some of the problems with it.

The gentleman sounds like somebody who has studied the CFTC; but as you know, of the many rules which they are planning to implement under Dodd-Frank, some of them actually were implied under Dodd-Frank and not specifically laid out. A number of them have no cost-benefit analysis, and a number of them will strap American companies and not the Asian or the European markets.

The reason why that is important is because you are a market. You know, it is not like a manufacturing plant where you are making automobiles or tanks or something like that. The commodity business is more computers. So if you change the rules in an international marketplace where American companies have to deal with things at one level and their Asian and European counterparts and competitors don't have to, then what is going to happen is these companies are going to go overseas.

We keep talking about jobs, and the gentleman knows that this is the one-year anniversary of the summer of recovery, when I guess we were--I am not sure what we were celebrating last year because the jobs were not created. But this runs off jobs, and that is what we are concerned about.

The CFTC has averaged four regulations a year, and this year they want to put in 36 regulations. I am concerned about the cost-benefit analysis. I am concerned that American companies will have a different set of rules than their competitors. I am concerned about the overreach. I am concerned about the way the rulemaking sequence is going.

The gentleman also knows there is a lot of terms that they haven't even defined, like who is a swap dealer, a mega-swap dealer, a swap participant. And, by the way, I am not trying to filibuster. I think that franchise does not go to the Republican Party tonight.


Mr. KINGSTON. And I wanted to say food safety is something that we all place a very high priority on and we're very concerned about, and we have been watching this situation in Europe daily as we're all concerned, and our prayers are with the people who have suffered and those who have died.

I do want to read a quote that Secretary of USDA Mr. Vilsack said yesterday, and I will just quote: Secretary John Vilsack said he is ``reasonably confident'' that U.S. consumers won't face the same sort of E. coli outbreak now plaguing Germany. And we're doing a lot and have done a lot in the last 15 years to make sure that we address potential E. coli infection. For example, the type of ground beef that has had a repeated problem with it has actually been cut in half.

Also, I want to say I do have concerns about the FDA implementation of food safety. We hear quite often that 48 million people have suffered from food-borne illnesses--a very high number, a number that we're all very concerned about--but only 20 percent of these are from known pathogens. If you look at it even further, 60 percent of the illnesses from known pathogens come from norovirus.

And how do we address this? Well, CDC said on March 4, to update the norovirus, that appropriate hand hygiene is the likely most single important method to prevent norovirus infection and control transmission. Reducing any norovirus present on hands is accomplished by thorough hand washing with running water and plain antiseptic soap.

Now, in the FDA 630-page budget request, there was not one single mention of norovirus. I would ask anybody, isn't that odd to you? That's something we need to be concerned about. Why would they not mention that, if nearly 60 percent of the illnesses are from norovirus?

Second highest cause of illness is from salmonella. And under the authority that FDA had before the Food Safety Modernization Act and the authority that the FDA has right now, they finalized the salmonella egg rule in July of last year, almost a year ago. According to the FDA's own press release, FDA said that as many as 79,000 illnesses and 30 deaths due to consumption of eggs contaminated with salmonella may be avoided each year with new food safety requirements. They have that authority right now, and that was last year's budget. They can still do it this year with this budget.

The third highest cause of food-borne illness comes from crossbreeding, and crossbreeding is mentioned one time in FDA's 2012 budget request as it was related to food defense. And the reason why this is important is because the FDA always seems to be ready to take on new initiatives, and yet it doesn't seem to be tackling the food safety challenges that we have right now in an orderly fashion under its current budget.

Now, the CDC statistics, which we got through hearings, go back to that 48 million food-borne illnesses a year, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths, very high numbers, numbers that we are all concerned about. But if you look at 311 million Americans eating three meals a day, that would be 933 million meals eaten daily or 340 billion eaten each year. If you do the math on this, the food safety rate is 99.9 percent safe.

Why is that relevant? Because something's working without the FDA and without the USDA and without the nanny state saying we're in charge of everything. And that's how the private sector--the private sector is a dirty word for many people in Washington, D.C. But food processing companies are very concerned about food safety and their customers' safety, because the way you keep your customers coming back to buy more is to keep them happy, and that means to keep them safe.

And it would be hard for me to believe that some of the leading companies in America, such as McDonald's or Burger King or Coca-Cola, have anything on their minds except for food safety.

So I appreciate the gentlewoman offering this amendment, but it's only $1 million. And if it were a serious amendment, certainly it would be more than that. But based on what we've seen so far, I don't think this amendment is going to do anything.


Mr. KINGSTON. Madam Chairman, I oppose this.

I want to say to my friends who have offered it, I did support this budget on the House floor and did support this 302(b) allocation in full committee. However, as I pointed out several times to my Democrat friends during the course of the debate today, the only budget that has passed is the Ryan budget. The President's budget failed in the Senate 97-0. The RSC budget fell on the House floor. The Congressional Black Caucus budget fell on the House floor. The Progressive Caucus budget fell on the House floor.

Our job is to try to move this under the circumstances that we have and the restraints that we have. The bill before us represents a cut in discretionary money of 13.4 percent, which is one of the largest cuts that we will be considering in the 12 appropriation bills.

I want to point out also that in terms of P.L. 480, that account alone has been cut 31 percent. And I met with the World Food Program three different times now and certainly expressed lots of concerns about America's role around the globe. We need to be engaged in the countries that we are engaged in. Sometimes this program is oversold as national security, which I believe it contributes to. It is not necessarily everything people want it to be in national security, but it is a program that keeps America engaged around the world and therefore promotes stability around the world. And when you have instability, there is a concern in terms of national security. It also actually does have an implication for the merchant marine because there's a cargo preference clause to it. It keeps the American merchant marine healthy, and those are the ships that take our military equipment overseas during engagements such as what we have going in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Mr. KINGSTON. I want to clarify some things on this that are important. Number one, I want to make sure that we all realize that ARS is currently, in this bill, funded at $993 million and that the Foreign Ag Service is at $175 million. And the Foreign Ag Service actually does have an invaluable role in representing U.S. agriculture overseas. And it's not all about importing their products as much as it is working and making sure that it's kind of a two-way street.

But I wanted to yield to the gentleman if he wanted some more time to explain it. My inclination is to take the amendment--although ARS, as I am saying, has a pretty big funding level already. And I just wanted to invite you to speak a little bit more and maybe warm us up a little, because I am like Mr. Farr. There's a lot of criticism of ARS. So somebody coming in to increase it, the amendment is paid for. I don't know that $2 million is going to help significantly one way or the other.


Mr. KINGSTON. I oppose the amendment.

I want to go back to the earlier theme I brought up when we were discussing both WIC and the Chaffetz amendment earlier tonight. With regard to what Dr. Broun is doing, I think there is 10 percent with which you can make that argument there.

What we've been trying to do is to stack a card house on the Ryan budget. That is the only budget that has passed one House. I will point out again that the budget of the President of the United States failed in the Senate 97-0. Similarly, three other budgets failed in the Senate, and four other budgets failed in the House. There was a budget that was offered that was further cut by the Republican Study Committee, and then there were others that were less cut, the Progressive Caucus', for example.

So one of the balancing acts that this committee is trying to accomplish with this bill tonight is to reduce spending but also to get 218 votes to pass the bill so that we can continue this with the U.S. Senate, which right now has not been able to pass one single appropriations bill. They have been very remiss in their duty, so I find myself having to balance some things that, if I were a free agent, I would probably be voting for and some things I would be voting against as I just told Mr. Clarke from Detroit in rejecting a $1 million transfer of account because I didn't know exactly what it did. I want to keep that balance there.

So, with this, I am going to oppose the 10 percent reduction offered by my friend and Georgia colleague, Dr. Broun.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. KINGSTON. I want to point out that FSA, the Farm Service Agency, is already $181 million below the President's request and $32 million below 2011. It has been trimmed a great deal. But also I wanted to point out that we just accepted an amendment that increases the Commodity Supplemental Food Program by $5 million. The gentlewoman may not be aware of that--I don't know if you were on the floor at the time. I know that doesn't mean that you wouldn't offer your amendment anyway, but I just wanted to point out that we did just increase it.

More importantly though, I have been in a mode of rejecting a lot of amendments in the last couple of hours because this budget, this bill, our 302(b) allocation is a reflection of the Ryan budget, which is the only budget that has passed either body in its entirety. There were budgets offered in the House that would have cut more, at least one. There were other budgets that would have cut less or cut in different directions. Yet the Ryan budget in the House or the Senate is the only budget that has passed, and it is a card house. I know, as you know, if we add to it we lose votes, and if we take from it we lose votes. For that reason, I do oppose your amendment. But I understand your concern here.

I want to point out, and I am sure the gentlewoman knows this, but a senior who is 65 years or older is actually eligible for six different Federal food programs, and it would certainly not be our intention to have anybody fall through the cracks. I think there is a lot to be said and some savings in combining the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the SNAP program, and maybe cut out some of the administrative costs in order to increase the amount available.


Mr. KINGSTON. Reclaiming my time, I do want to point out, and I am sure the gentlewoman knows, that this bill actually does increase SNAP $5.6 billion. Therefore, I think sometimes we do need to, even though that is an authorizing issue, I think as a practical issue that is something we need to explore and thrash about and make sure that we are not under-serving somebody because of two programs that could be so close that I don't know why we don't combine them. Again, I realize that would be farm bill authority to do that. But SNAP did go up $5.6 billion because of the mandatory spending side of it.

I need to continue to oppose your amendment, but I would not slam the door on looking at it as the process continues in the months ahead. Hopefully, the Senate might start doing their job and passing appropriations bills, and then we can get to conference without it being part of an omnibus, because I think in a conference we are going to do a lot better if it is just limited to agriculture and these accounts.

Madam Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.


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