Ranking Member DeLauro Statement at the Subcommittee Markup of the 2024 Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA Funding Bill

2023-05-18 09:50

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the subcommittee markup of the 2024 Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA funding bill:

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. First, may I just say, I associate myself with the remarks that have been made by the ranking member of the subcommittee.

We are at the third subcommittee markup for the 2024 appropriations process under a majority that has not established a discretionary allocation for the Committee and has yet to reveal its 12 subcommittee allocations. House Republicans appear to be proceeding because of a promise they made to each other to slash the nondefense programs that families depend on to survive.

After removing rescissions, the Agriculture bill provides a total funding level so insufficient that it was last seen in 2006. It is a sham proposal built on $8 billion in alleged savings that will likely not be available next year.

The cuts in the bill are harmful, including slashing the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program by $500 million, cutting the Renewable Energy for America Program by $500 million, gutting investments in rural electric co-ops for clean energy and energy efficiency by $3.25 billion, eliminating loans that serve as a financial lifeline that has already helped more than 20,000 distressed farmers from keeping hardworking farmers from going into foreclosure, it’s an issue that is relevant to rural farmers, and taking food out of the mouths of veterans, children, seniors, and people with disabilities who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. People who have health conditions that prevent them from consistently working.

It is full of policy riders that focus more on social policy issues catering to the ideological extreme than helping farmers and Americans everywhere who rely on funding in this bill for the food they eat and the medicines they take.

The bill would reverse the FDA decision to allow mifepristone to be dispensed in certified pharmacies, instead of only by prescribers in hospitals, clinics, and medical offices. This policy rider would overrule the established scientific process for FDA approval to restrict women’s access to healthcare.

This move is unprecedented. The subcommittee has no business over-turning the considered 20-year decision of FDA. What scientific authority or knowledge do you have to overturn medical decisions?

It also contains two riders on tobacco – prohibiting limits on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars and stopping any limits on the amount of nicotine in cigarettes. What will be the health consequences? What will be the life expectancy consequences?

I strongly oppose both of these riders, in the interest of public health.

In short, this bill presumably reflects Republican values: taking food out of the mouths of hungry people, creating hurdles for women to access medication, raising energy costs for rural Americans, and making it harder for small farmers and poultry producers to make ends meet – while at the same time tipping the scale in favor of big corporations and protecting big tobacco.

Thank you, I yield back

118th Congress