Lowey statement at subcommittee markup of FY 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill
I’d like to thank Chairman Aderholt, Ranking Member Bishop, and Chairman Frelinghuysen for their work on this bill.
As we begin our fourth subcommittee markup, it is difficult to limit our discussion to how the Department of Agriculture, FDA, and CFTC are being shortchanged. After all, today’s markup is occurring concurrently with the House Budget Committee again failing to advance a budget resolution.
So three months from the end of this fiscal year, there is no budget, no plan to address the inadequate spending caps or the harmful sequester, and no strategy to raise the debt limit. At our full committee markups, the majority has not even proposed a full slate of 302b allocations. For the sake of our national security, schools, roads and bridges, clean air and water, and much more, the American people deserve better than this dysfunction.
Republicans and Democrats will have to work together to raise budget caps if appropriations bills are to be enacted. Let’s cut the charade and get to work on a responsible, bipartisan process.
Now to the bill before us.
The Fiscal Year 2018 Agriculture bill would cut investments by $1.126 billion, or approximately 5%.
The Agriculture bill contains a number of national priorities, including healthy meals for children and the elderly, rural development, and the safety of our food supply, drugs and medical devices.
Unfortunately, some are shortchanged, including:
Slashing food assistance to the world’s needy by cutting Food for Peace by $200 million, and reducing McGovern-Dole by $16 million; as well as
Continuing to disrespect the CFTC, which protects small businesses, family farms, and ordinary investors from improper business dealings, by including troubling bill language on employee compensation and a petty cut of $2 million from current levels, which is $33.5 million below the request of the Republican Acting Chairman.
The bill also contains a host of problematic policy provisions, including:
Wasteful federal funds for the FDA and USDA to advertise on GMO foods; and
Continued efforts to weaken the FDA’s oversight of tobacco products by exempting so-called premium cigars and dangerous e-cigarettes without congressionally directed pre-market review.
The tobacco language in this bill is a Trojan horse, and I urge my colleagues to listen to the science and not fall for this cynical attempt at deregulating tobacco products.
I will have more to say should this bill have a full committee markup.