Hoyer Statement on Republican Agriculture Appropriations Bill

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When we say “women and children first,” it means to save them, not to throw them overboard. “Women and children first” means that the most vulnerable need to be lifted up, need to be protected, need to be given a hand up, not a handout. I rise in opposition to this bill, because we must not balance the budget on the backs of children. We must not balance the budget on the backs of women who need nutrition and health care. In fact, if we cut out all defense and discretionary spending, we wouldn’t balance our budget. That's the magnitude of the problem that faces us. But a great country, America, should not ask our children who need nutritional programs, who need health programs, to pay the price of our irresponsibility, because we have failed to pay for what we buy.

Let us not repair to our little children and their mothers to pay the bill that we refuse to pay—even while the House passed, on its first day in session, a rule that that provides for $5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthiest in America, including me. I don't want a tax cut if it means that a child goes hungry in America, the richest nation on the face of the Earth. That is not my priority. That is not my morality. That is not my faith—lift up the little children. Surely, America is not a country that wants to see its children go hungry or its pregnant women go without services they need for healthy babies. Surely, America is a generous enough country to feed those who need food. My faith tells me to feed the hungry, house the homeless, clothe those who have no clothes.

So I rise in strong opposition to attempts to dramatically cut the food programs that serve some of our most vulnerable constituents. We do need to work to bring our budget under control and to reduce our debt—but not by hurting the most vulnerable in America. This bill would sharply reduce funding for the vital nutrition programs for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Surely, Americans did not send us the message to go to Washington and undermine women, infants, and children, at a time when we are still recovering from the worst economic crisis in a generation , when unemployment is unacceptably high, when people have lost their homes, when too many people are in great distress. Surely this is not the time to turn our backs on women, infants, and children, and on the low-income seniors who also benefit from the programs that Republicans would cut. Ladies and gentlemen, reject this bill. Stand up for the values of America and of our people.