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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 2642, Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his tremendous leadership on behalf of feeding the American people. It seems a very fundamental thing, Biblical in nature, family-wise, and a very important priority for all of us--except maybe not in this House of Representatives.

I want to thank Congresswoman DeLauro for her relentless, persistent advocacy to feed the hungry in our country.

But I rise today--and I've thanked them over and over again--to once again thank the Congressional Black Caucus. When they came to the floor today to speak in the manner that they did against this legislation and for values that our country shares about being a community, they spoke not just for the Congressional Black Caucus and for their constituents, they spoke for America.

They have fought this fight over and over again. The inference to be drawn from their leadership on this is not that the black community is a community that benefits from food stamps. Some people in the community do. Overwhelmingly, there are people in your districts in rural America, there are people in rural America who really need us to pass this legislation. You are taking food out of the mouths of your own poor constituents.

Poverty in America--poverty--I'm saying the word on the floor of the House: poverty, poverty, poverty. Poverty in America seems to be a word that people get nervous about. Poverty in America among our children is something shameful, but it is a reality. It has an impact on children to have the uncertainty in their lives that poverty brings. And when that poverty says to those children, one in four of you are going to sleep hungry tonight, that's just wrong, and it's wrong for America. It is not consistent with our values. It does not represent the sense of community that makes America strong and that makes America great.

So to Marsha Fudge, the distinguished chair of the Caucus, to Mr. Cleaver, the former chair, to Mr. Clyburn, our distinguished assistant leader, to all of my colleagues in the CBC--and a champion on the poverty issue, Congresswoman Barbara Lee--I could name all of you because you've all been out there on the forefront of this.

Our democracy is as strong as we are as a people. The middle class is the backbone of America. The aspirations of Americans to become part of the middle class is what we should be addressing in Congress. And what are we doing? One hundred ninety days we've been in this session and no jobs bill yet.

The leadership of the Republican Party says they want regular order. They want regular order. They passed a budget bill. Over 3 months ago, the Senate passed a budget. The regular order would be to go to conference, get rid of the sequester, and to proceed with a bill that invests in America--Mr. Hoyer's Make It in America, invest in innovation in America, build the infrastructure of America, create jobs, and to do so in a way that builds community, strengthens the middle class, and grows our economy with jobs.

The distinguished leadership of this Republican Party in the House said they want regular order and they have respect for their committees. Well, the Agriculture Committee, in a bipartisan way, passed a bill out of the committee.

I didn't like the bill. It wouldn't have been a bill I would have written. When Republicans had the leadership, Democrats cooperated, and a bipartisan bill came out of committee.

The rumor was--and I guess it was just a rumor, but it floated--that then it would respect that bill. If they could come out with a bipartisan bill, it would be taken up on the floor.

The bill that we have here--as little we know about it because it emerged in the middle of the night--bears no resemblance to the bill that came out of committee. Actions of the Republican leadership have been disrespectful to the committee process, so don't hand us the regular order argument.

The audacity to split off the nutrition parts of this bill is so stunning it would be shocking, except this is a ``House of shocks.'' I would say it is one of the worst things you have done, but there is such stiff competition for that honor that I can't really fully say that.

But when you take food out of the mouths of babies and you prevent a bill from going forth that addresses our food banks and our nutrition needs and the rest for our country, what are you thinking? Or are you thinking--or are you thinking?

I thank you, CBC, for your leadership on this. I thank you, Jim McGovern and Rosa DeLauro, and all of you, because this is a fight that you are making for every person in America to live in a country of values, of values that include our faith. Our faith tells us that to minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship; to ignore those needs, as this bill does, is to dishonor the God who made us.

This is very wrong. This, even in this place, crosses a threshold that we should never go past--should never go past. This is totally out of the question.

I am a mom. One of the reasons I am involved in politics is I see this as an extension of my role as a mother of five kids, and now many grandchildren. God blessed us. But what drove me to this was that I saw all that my kids had, all the opportunity, all the love, all the concern, all of the rest of it; and I thought the best thing that we could all do is to make sure that our children, for their own welfare, grew up in a country where all of America's children were treated with respect as we meet their needs. That's just not happening here today.

I call upon our friends in the faith community, and they are here on this issue, as well as most of the farmers groups and all the rest. There is nobody--there is nobody outside this body who supports this bill who cares about the values that we all profess to have within these walls.

Again, taking food out of the mouths of babies, that's a good policy? I don't think so. Vote ``no'' on this rule.


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