Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this evening in opposition to the devastating cuts that H.R. 2112, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food & Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012, makes to the WIC program. Below are the Leader's remarks:
“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it's 6:00 across America, or at least in the Eastern time zone. Families across America are getting ready to sit down for dinner. At their kitchen table, many homes in our country, parents, moms are saying to their children, ‘Eat your vegetables, eat your dinner.'
“But in some homes in America, there isn't adequate food on the table. There isn't adequate nutrition for our children. It's hard to imagine that, that one in five kids in America may go to sleep hungry tonight, with pains in their stomachs because they just didn't have enough food to eat.
“In its wisdom, our United States of America established the WIC program a while back for women, infants and children to make sure our nation was strong, was to make sure that we fed our children. Our country made the decision that feeding our children was a priority. It sounds so obvious. Families make decision about their budgets, that they are going to feed their children. They wouldn't think of saving money by not feeding their children, but for some low-income areas and for others, now this is into the middle class. It's very hard to make ends meet.
“And so you wonder, these people who are sitting down to dinner, how the Congress of the United States should decide that in trying to reduce the deficit--which we are all committed to do, that's important to our children as well--why we would decide to balance that budget on the little tiny backs of our children--our children, many of whom don't have enough to eat.
“I want to commend Congresswoman DeLauro for her leadership as a member of the Ag Subcommittee of Appropriations, a former chair of that subcommittee. She successfully passed an amendment in committee, which had bipartisan support, it would have to have bipartisan support to pass, to restore $147 million to the WIC program to feed the children. I congratulate her for that. It was part of the bill that was supposed to come to the floor. The Republican leadership has decided not to protect that bipartisan, passed amendment.
“What we are seeing is--cutting support to infants children, women, infants and children--is in the context of something bigger. At the same time as we are making these cuts, we are giving tax subsidies to Big Oil. The price at the pump is also an imposition on the budgets of these families.
“And that is something that we can do something about by ending speculation, harmful speculation, but to do that we have to fund the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, which is in this bill as well. And the Republicans are saying they want to delay, delay, delay and defeat the enforcement of the laws which would end speculation, which would reduce the price at the pump…Goldman Sachs says by at least 20 percent.
“At the same time, this same Republican majority has passed a bill not once but twice to abolish Medicare. Food, price at the pump, Medicare: these are assaults on the middle class that are hard to withstand. In fact, they are hard to understand.
“It's hard to understand why we would say to seniors: ‘You are going to pay more for Medicare for fewer benefits as we abolish Medicare while we give subsidies to Big Oil.' We are going to say to seniors in nursing homes: ‘You are going to go home and live with your family who can probably ill-afford for you to do so, so we can give tax breaks to corporations to send jobs overseas.' We are going to say to children who we are not feeding that we're cutting education funding as well as making college more expensive for nearly 10 million students in our country, for some making it unaffordable to go to college while giving tax breaks to the wealthiest people in our country.
“So they are cutting support for women, infants and children, while handing a blank check to speculators. They are ending Medicare while they give subsidies to Big Oil. These do not reflect America's values and priorities, these choices. These are tough choices. They will not bring the growth we need to expand our economy, put people back to work as we create jobs. They will not make America strong. As moms across America are saying to children right now, 6:00 in the East, ‘Eat your vegetables, they will make you strong,' we are acting on this floor to do just the opposite, to cut the funding for the initiative that will help feed the children of America.
“It's unthinkable that a family would say we can't afford to feed the children. It's unthinkable that a nation committed to the future would say we can't afford to feed the children. These families need our help. It's a large amount of money $147 million, very small compared to the subsidies to Big Oil and a small price to pay for the health and well being of our children and the strength of our country as we go into the future.
“So I commend Congresswoman DeLauro for her tremendous leadership, for fighting for this, for not taking no for an answer in the committee, and I would hope that we could prevail on the floor--but the Republican majority has left little option for that to happen.
“I also want to commend the Ranking Member, Congressman Farr, now the Ranking Member on the Ag Subcommittee. Probably nobody in the Congress knows more. There may be some who are as equal. I don't know. But probably no one knows more about this issue, representing an agricultural region as he does and also being committed to the health, well being and good nutrition of our children so that they can be strong, so that they can learn in school, so that they can be part of our great country in the best possible way for them. So I thank you, Ranking Member Farr, for you leadership as well.”