Ranking Member DeLauro Floor Remarks in Opposition to the 2024 Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA Funding Bill

2023-09-26 21:01

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 4368, the fiscal year 2024 Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA Funding bill:

The Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA Appropriations Bill cuts funding for critical programs relied on by America’s farmers, rural communities, and working families. This bill slashes loans and weakens support for rural communities. It inserts government into personal health care decisions by limiting women’s access to abortion. And shamefully, it cuts assistance for the most vulnerable children and families.

That we are debating this bill on September 26, four days before the end of the fiscal year when House Republicans have provided no path forward to keep our government open, is as absurd as it is reprehensible. This House Republican plan demonstrates an inability and an unwillingness to govern. Rather than working to keep the lights on – and ensuring federal workers and servicemembers get paid – Republicans are pursuing a path explicitly designed to shut down the government.

Republicans will claim to support farmers. But this bill makes it harder for small farmers to make ends meet. This bill will inflict increasing energy costs in rural communities, making it harder or impossible for farmers to get a loan, and making our food less safe. This bill takes away billions of dollars in investments from rural communities by gutting funding provided to rural electric co-ops used to help support the long-term resiliency, reliability, and affordability of rural electric systems. These co-ops serve 92 percent of persistent poverty counties and power to over 21 million businesses, homes, schools, and farms in 48 states.

This bill cuts the Renewable Energy for America Program by over $500 million – raising energy costs on 15,000 rural small businesses and cutting farmers out of the green energy economy – and it eliminates payments from the Inflation Reduction Act that are intended to serve as a financial lifeline for distressed farmers, and which have already helped more than 20,000 producers to avoid going into foreclosure.

This bill abandons the most vulnerable among us by slashing the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program by $800 million. Some 4.6 million women and children would also get severely reduced food and vegetable vouchers.

I do not believe we should practice this so-called “fiscal responsibility” by taking food out of the mouths of moms and of children. Is this how Republicans seek to sell their spending cuts to the American people? By taking food from veterans and the most vulnerable?

Finally, the majority has included shameful political riders in each of these Appropriations bills that attack women and minorities and pander to various extreme right-wing issues of the day, all while protecting billionaires and the biggest corporations.

Republicans are determined to make abortion illegal nationally. A rider in this bill will reverse the FDA decision to allow mifepristone to be dispensed in certified pharmacies to patients with a prescription from a certified prescriber, instead of only in hospitals, clinics, and medical offices. Mifepristone has been safely and legally used in the U.S. by over 5 million people since FDA approved its use more than 20 years ago. This policy would overrule the established scientific process for FDA approval in order to restrict women’s access to health care. My amendment to remove this rider was blocked.

This is not good faith negotiations on appropriations. This bill is not serious, but it will – like the shutdown the majority’s plan guarantees – have serious consequences, that will be borne by the American people.

This bill is shameful, this bill is dangerous, and this bill leaves rural Americans, farmers, children, seniors, veterans, and hungry families behind.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill, and I yield back.


118th Congress