WASHINGTON, DC-Representative Edolphus “Ed” Towns (D-NY10) released the following statement made today on the floor of the House of Representatives in opposition to the 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the underlying bill.
“The FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill significantly reduces the amount of funds awarded to public nutrition programs such as SNAP, WIC and many other programs that lend assistance to families in economically disadvantaged communities.
“This session of Congress has been really tough for the American people. First, our nation’s seniors are threatened with potential cuts to Medicare proposed by the Ryan budget. Now, hunger programs for women and children are being targeted. It is a tough year, indeed. But I was not sent to Congress to sit back and watch these crucial programs be cut. I was sent here to fight for their existence, and to ensure that for one more day, and for one more meal, our neediest, most vulnerable communities do not have to worry about whether food can be put on the table.
“I cannot sit idly by as we destroy programs upon which citizens depend on the most to pay for $45 billion in tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. If we get rid of tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires for one week, we would pay for the entire WIC program for a year.
“Mr. Speaker, I am greatly disturbed by the negative impact this bill will have on those individuals who depend on public assistance to feed their families. It is projected that the expected funding cut will result in 350,000 people losing their WIC benefits around the U.S. My district in New York has the 6th-highest food hardship rate in the country at 29.7%. This means that almost 30% of families do not have enough money to put food on the table. If even one of these programs is cut, tens of thousands of New Yorkers will be affected.
“The greatest challenge before us is reducing the deficit in a way consistent with our values. On this measure, the bill fails miserably. WIC provides food to new mothers, babies and children under five who have been identified as nutritionally at risk. It represents, in any decent society, the most basic obligation we have to our fellow citizens. Nearly 50% of the babies born in our country each year rely on WIC. On top of that, it is incredibly cost-effective, serving nearly 10 million people each year, and costing less than $100 per person.
“Let’s not forget that we are here to serve the needs of our nation. Supporting this bill would be a great disservice to those who elected us to Congress. Supporting this bill will significantly cut the funding to programs that feed thousands of families in New York. Supporting this bill will lead to the devastation of many hunger programs in the city. There are many families who depend on government funding to put food on the table every night. Voting in support of this bill will only make their lives more difficult.
“I urge my colleagues to vote to protect working Americans, not millionaires and billionaires.”