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Public Statements

America Should Take Notice

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, this morning, I rise to call upon the consciousness and the conscience of not only America, but my colleagues.

I rise in the backdrop of a dreamer's speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, who spoke about the greatness of America. Dr. King had no quarrel with this Nation. He loved its values. He found it a place of promise. And I imagine if he were alive today, he would have an answer to Mr. Putin: America is exceptional.

The world looks to America. America has been the Nation's breadbasket. It has served and fed the world. Mr. Speaker, the farmers I know want to feed the world. They relish being called the suppliers of the breadbasket. They enjoy seeing their products arrive in places where people are hungry. In all the years that I have worked in the United States Congress, we've found a way to work with our family farmers and feed our children. That's why I rise today in opposition to a devastating food fight.

America should take notice. Today, all the food banks around the Nation should be bombarding this House and all of the faith leaders should be immediately rising up and dialing in, for this is a devastating food fight--a $411 million reduction in my State alone, impacting 3,997,000 if this bill containing $4 billion in cuts to food stamps, or the supplemental nutrition program, goes forward today.

There are 46.2 million people who are living in poverty in America, and 9.5 million of them are families. Also, 16.1 million children under the age of 18 are living in poverty. Is that the exceptional America? We know that we are better than that.

Thirty-four percent of children in Texas are in poverty, 50.1 million Americans live in food insecurity, and 16 million children do not eat nutritiously. In larger proportions, that is what will happen today.

And so this is the message: don't cut SNAP. Stop the GOP from cutting $40 billion, which is 33.4 million meals, or 24 meals per month per family. That's our message.

How can we stand here as a country of dreamers and those who believe in acting? Dr. King dreamed, but he was focused on action. He believed in helping the poor. He believed in jobs. And we come here today to stand on this floor with a straight face and engage in a battle of a food fight. I think it is atrocious, and it needs to stop. Where is the goodness that gives all Americans opportunities to rise?

I heard a Member on the floor discuss the Affordable Care Act. Well, get the facts. Right now, as we speak, the Affordable Care Act is providing premiums under $100 for those individuals that need to be insured, helping to cut poverty. That's why we need all of these factors--not cuts in SNAP, not the elimination of the Affordable Care Act and a continuing resolution that is not going to go anywhere. All of these pound on people who are in need.

I'm asking for relief. I'm asking for the very promised land that Dr. King also spoke of: the exceptionalism that is America. When we send young soldiers to foreign lands, they are exceptional. But yet some of the families of our soldiers are now on food stamps. Is that what America is about--cutting the food stamps of Active Duty soldiers?

We have to do better than that. And so our message is going to be a strong one. We're against it. We're against all the pounding down on those who are trying to climb the ladder of success. We want to end the sequester that is going to cut 67.8 million teachers out of the primary and secondary schools.

It is time now to say no, don't cut SNAP, no to the CR, no to sequester, and yes to America, yes to the promised land, yes to the dream, yes to implementing what is right, yes to allowing us to climb the ladder of success. That's the opportunity for Americans. Say yes to jobs, say yes to education.

I believe that if we do not do that, Mr. Speaker, our ancestors and early Founding Fathers, the visionaries, even though we had our ups and downs, Mr. Speaker, are going to ask us, Why?

God bless America, an exceptional Nation with a big heart. Vote ``no'' today. That's what America wants: something for all of us.

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