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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CICILLINE. I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Rhode Island is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. CICILLINE. I rise in opposition to the underlying bill.

Mr. Chair, I rise today in defense of 76,000 residents of the First Congressional District of Rhode Island, which I have the privilege of representing who, according to the advocacy group Feeding America, are at risk of losing their ability to feed themselves and their families. That is because this week the majority party in the House is ready to vote on a measure that will undermine the safety net in this country designed for our Nation's women, infants and children.

Mr. Chairman, we all know that one of the greatest challenges before us is reducing our deficit, but we have to do it in a way that is consistent with our values, consistent with the values of our great country. And this week we will be voting on a measure that fails those values miserably.

If the majority party has their way and denies necessary funding to a critical safety net for some of our Nation's most vulnerable citizens, nearly 1,000 women, infants and children in Rhode Island's First District will be denied the assistance they need to survive.

WIC represents the most basic obligation we have to our fellow citizens most in need--food and nutrition. On top of that, it is an incredibly cost-effective program, serving nearly 10 million Americans each year and costing less than $100 per person. In my district, more than 18 percent of the residents suffer from food insecurity and depend on WIC to make ends meet.

At a time when the middle class in our country is being crushed with high unemployment and still reeling from a housing crisis that has left countless families in foreclosure, we are seeing more and more people in need of assistance just to get by. And it is not just affecting people without jobs. It is folks who have a job as well, but they have had their wages cut or they have had their wages diminished or their hours cut.

This is not the time to allow people to lose the lifelines they need to survive. We have helped the auto industry. We have helped big banks. It is time to sustain support for families that are most in need and have been most devastated by this difficult economy.

Yet we see again this week another attack by the Republican majority in the House on working families while they continue to fight to protect subsidies for Big Oil and to protect tax breaks for the outsourcing of jobs overseas. First they come after seniors by trying to end Medicare, and now they are coming after women, children, and infants who rely on food assistance.

We should not be destroying programs upon which citizens rely for their most basic needs in order to fund tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires or big subsidies for the big oil companies. If we got rid of tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires for one week, we could pay for the entire WIC program for an entire year.

I urge my colleagues to reject this proposal, to ensure instead that families most in need who have been hardest hit by this recession have access to food and nourishment. We have the ability to provide nourishment to families, and that is a cornerstone of a free and decent society. We cannot abandon this great responsibility.

I yield to the gentlelady from Wisconsin.


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