Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in support of S. 3307, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Below are the Speaker's remarks.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank the Chairman [Mr. Miller] and I thank Congresswoman McCarthy, Chairwoman DeLauro, and Congressman Jim McGovern for their leadership in bringing this important legislation to the floor today.
“I especially want to acknowledge the exceptional leadership of First Lady Michelle Obama for recognizing a tremendous need in our country, a need for proper nutrition for our children. So many Members of our Caucus of this Congress have participated in the legislation--in this House, of course, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, other Members, Mr. Leader Hoyer.
“We all come together with a shared value. And we come together proudly to support a bill that passed unanimously with bipartisan support, unanimously in the United States Senate. I congratulate the Senate for the action that they took to give us the opportunity to be here today.
“When I became Speaker, my first action was to gavel the House to order on behalf of all of America's children. I feel very proud that toward the end of this Congress, I have the opportunity to come to speak to for those children as well. I come as a mother and a grandmother. I come as one whose children and grandchildren every day pray for the one in five children in America who live in poverty. Many of those children go to sleep hungry at night. How could that be in this, the greatest country in the world? This Congress, the United States Senate in bipartisan way, the First Lady and the President of the United States have decided to take action upon the tremendous need our children have.
“We all know that this legislation is important for moral reasons. It is also a competitiveness issue for our country. It is important for children to learn in order for us to compete internationally. They can't learn if they are not eating, if they don't have the proper nutrition. So it is not just about what it means for the children, although that is foremost. It is what it means to our country, our community, to our economy.
“It's a national security issue as well. Just a little bit of history that many of you are familiar with, but I will recall that in order to create the strongest possible military, we must address obesity among America's children. The National School Lunch Act was made law in 1946 as a response to the alarming number of Americans who were rejected for World War II military service because of diet-related health problems. That's how we got any of the food stamps and the food initiatives in our country.
“More than 60 years later, America faces the same problem: 27 percent of young Americans are unable to serve in the military because they are overweight. That is why Mission Readiness, an organization of more than 150 retired military leaders, is urging Congress to pass this bill. The faith-based community supports it. The children's organizations support it. Those who are concerned about nutrition and feeding our children support it. The military supports this legislation.
“It will strengthen our competitiveness. It will improve our military readiness. It will honor our commitment to our children. And it does so in a fiscally responsible way - improving the efficiency and effectiveness of federal child nutrition initiatives and ultimately saving the taxpayer money.
“The United States of America spends $147 billion each year in excess medical costs treating obesity-related diseases. Indeed, we cannot afford not to address this problem. We must address this problem.
“And so, again, I commend my colleagues for their leadership over the years. I know that Congressman George Miller, now Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, but way back when, before he came to Congress, decades ago as a staffer in Sacramento, California worked on child nutrition issues. So he brings a long history of great commitment and making a tremendous difference for children and their health.
“Again, let us address this moral issue, this competitive issue, this national security issue. Let us join the United States Senate in passing this legislation with strong bipartisan support for all of America's children.”