Lowey statement at subcommittee markup of FY 2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill
I thank Chairman Aderholt, Chairman Frelinghuysen, and Ranking Member Bishop for their work on this bill.
The bill before us is an example of what can happen when the Subcommittee is presented with healthy allocations. However, as we consider the fourth bill of the year, I’m frustrated that, once again, the majority has departed from what had been long-standing committee practice of examining allocations for each subcommittee. This is far from regular order.
Democrats are focused on investments to create jobs, grow the economy, help hardworking families, and provide for our security. When Republicans fail to govern responsibly and instead keep us in the dark on a complete set of allocations, we cannot adequately judge how our priorities may fare or how this bill fits into the larger picture. This is certainly true for the bill before us today.
The Fiscal Year 2019 Agriculture bill would maintain a number of important investments that help young people access healthy meals, including WIC, summer EBT, school meals and kitchen equipment grants.
However, it falls short in several areas. While the bill maintains funding for McGovern-Dole, it would cut $216 million from Food for Peace, leading to increased hunger and insecurity around the world.
The bill also fails to meet the growing needs of the FDA, which regulates more than $2.4 trillion worth of products consumed by Americans, including foods, drugs, medical devices, and tobacco. That amounts to Americans spending about 20 cents of every dollar on FDA-regulated goods. The FDA needs robust resources to ensure the safety of Americans, and while this bill would provide a sizeable increase, it still falls $64 million short of the request. It is my hope that these levels can be increased as the process moves forward.
As always, extraneous policy threatens this bill. I continue to be concerned about riders on human embryos as well as the continuation of a government-funded ad campaign to promote GMO products.
I recognize Chairman Aderholt for not including harmful riders that would weaken the FDA’s ability to regulate e-cigarettes and cigars. I have no doubt the Subcommittee will debate this topic at full committee markup, but I maintain hope that this Committee will not weaken, but rather strengthen, our ability to take these addictive and dangerous products out of the hands of young people. Finally, I’m pleased the Committee has lost its appetite for the Trump administration’s condescending plan to replace about half of SNAP benefits with a box of non-perishable food. Thank you.