Mariel Saez, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in opposition to House Republicans' "Increasing Hunger in America Act," a bill that drastically cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
“I thank the Gentlelady and thank her for her leadership on this issue. And I lament with Mr. Lucas that we don't have a bipartisan bill because I know that's what he wanted. That's what he forged. And that's what's been abandoned unfortunately by his party. I think that's sad for the country, it's even sadder for the people who will be so adversely affected.
“Mr. Speaker, several weeks after House Republicans broke with longstanding practice and cut nutrition program funding out of the farm bill, they are now bringing a nutrition-denying bill to the Floor. Shockingly their version of nutrition assistance is to cut $40 billion over the next 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program called SNAP.
“What does this mean? For 14 percent of our fellow citizens – luckily 86 percent of us are doing pretty well, we can put a meal on the table, we can feed our children – but 14 percent of our fellow citizens can't have confidence that they can do that. Has America fallen so low in its moral compass that we are not prepared to make sure that in the richest country on the face of the Earth they have food on their table? Have we fallen that low?
“It means 210,000 children dropped from the school meals program. It means 170,000 veterans in need losing some or all of their food assistance. It will affect Americans of all ages and it will especially harm seniors, students, and individuals with disabilities.
“Tuesday's Census Bureau report confirms that too many Americans remain in poverty as a result of lingering effects from the recession. This is reflected in the rise over the past few years in the number of Americans who rely on food assistance to eat a decent meal from day to day. In the wealthiest country on Earth, there is no reason, no reason why so many Americans should have to go hungry. And now is certainly not the time for Congress to make it harder for them to feed themselves and their families.
“Do we need to bring down the deficit? We do. Do we need to do it on the backs of the poor? We do not.
“Instead we ought to be helping Americans find jobs and access opportunities so they will no longer need SNAP assistance.
“We should go to conference with the Senate, as I know my friend, Mr. Lucas, wanted to do, which passed a bipartisan farm bill in June by a vote of 66-27. Two thirds of the members of the United States Senate, a majority of the House Agriculture Committee, and in my view a majority of this House wanted to do this. But we did not do it.
“Of course we should have gone to conference weeks ago. But sadly this Congress remains dysfunctional. I urge my colleagues to defeat this punitive legislation and I call on the Speaker to appoint conferees for the farm bill so we can see a compromise version reflecting the compassion and wisdom shown by bipartisan-acting Congresses over the last four decades.
“I thank Mr. Lucas for his leadership and regret that it is not being followed and I yield back the balance of my time.”