Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Full Committee Markup of FY 2021 Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA Funding Bill

2020-07-09 14:15

WASHINGTON — Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2021 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill:

I thank Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Fortenberry for their work on this bill as well as the staff for their efforts to craft the product before us.

The coronavirus pandemic has made it abundantly clear that we must do more to address America’s food security crisis and to strengthen struggling communities that are reeling from the pandemic and ensuing recession. 

While the Trump administration’s budget would gut critical investments in vulnerable populations and rural communities at a time of great need and uncertainty, this fiscal year 2021 bill would reduce disparities made worse by the pandemic with strong funding and protections to help put nutritious food on people’s tables and to connect more Americans to work, school, health care and family with increased broadband access.

At a time when hunger is growing, the food supply is under threat, and more and more Americans are falling into poverty, this bill responds effectively to:

  • Meet the needs of SNAP and WIC to ensure the most vulnerable have access to nutritious meals;
  • Feed children when they are out of school through the Summer EBT program; and
  • Increase investments in the child nutrition program by $1.5 billion.

It would also give FDA a much-needed $41 million boost so it can continue to review treatments and, one day, vaccines for COVID-19, as well as ensure the safety of our food, drugs, and medical devices.

The package before us also includes language directing FDA to take more meaningful steps on two important issues – tobacco enforcement and food allergens.  One of my proudest achievements was passing the law to require the labeling of major food allergens so that allergic consumers can know what is in the foods they eat.  But this list has not adapted as some allergens have become more prevalent, such as sesame, which is estimated to affect more than one million Americans.  This bill includes funding and a directive to FDA to finally provide a timeline and recommendations on the inclusion of sesame as a major allergen.

The report also includes language directing FDA to increase enforcement of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, many of which are on the market in violation of federal law.  A year after a vaping illness sickened more than 2,800 Americans and led to 68 deaths, FDA needs to put its foot on the gas to remove illegal products from the market and protect youth who continue to be targeted by manufacturers.

Lastly, the bill also includes funding to ensure the humane treatment of animals, support for Smith Lever extension grants, and much-needed funding for Food for Peace and McGovern Dole. 

In closing, I again thank Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Fortenberry and the subcommittee staff, as well as my personal office staff, Dana Acton and Wendy Coursen, for their hard work and contributions.


116th Congress