Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor today to call on her colleagues to oppose the House Republican Farm Bill. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. 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 – 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 thank them over and over again. I 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 for the values of our communities, they spoke not only for the Congressional Black Caucus and for their constituents, they spoke for America. 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 the community that benefits from food stamps, some people in the community do. Overwhelmingly they're people in your districts, in rural America. They're 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. 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. And 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. It is 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 [Congresswoman] Marcia Fudge…
“…where is [Congresswoman] Marcia Fudge?
“The distinguished Chair of the [Congressional Black] Caucus [Congresswoman] Marcia Fudge, to Mr. Cleaver, the former Chair, to Mr. Clyburn, our distinguished Assistant [Democratic] Leader, to all of my colleagues in the CBC, and 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, and the middle class is the backbone of America. The aspirations of all Americans to become part of the middle class is what we should be addressing in this Congress. And what are we doing? [For] 190 days we have 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 three 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 to invest 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 says they want regular order and they have respect for their committees. Well, the Agriculture Committee, in a bipartisan way, in a bipartisan way, passed a bill out of committee. I didn’t like the bill. It wouldn’t have been a bill that I would have written, but it was – the Republicans had the leadership, Democrats cooperated, a bipartisan bill came out of committee. The rumor was, I guess it was just a rumor, but it floated that they would respect that bill if they could come out with a bipartisan bill, it would be taken up on the floor.
“The bill we have here, the 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. 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 was one of the worst things you’ve 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 forward 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?
“So, I just – I thank you CBC for your leadership on this. I thank you [Congressman] Jim McGovern and [Congresswoman] Rosa DeLauro, 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. And our faith tells us that to minster 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, 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’m a mom. One of the reasons I’m involved in politics is I see it as an extension, as a 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 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, grow 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’re here on this issue as well as most of the farmers groups and all the rest. There’s nobody – there’s nobody – outside this body who supports this bill who cares about the values that we all profess to have within these walls. So again, taking food out of the mouths of babies, that’s a good policy? I don’t think so. Vote no on this rule. Thank you.”