Rep. Jackson Lee: Farm Bill ‘Will Again Put Starving Children in the Abyss’

By Elizabeth Harrington | July 12, 2013 | 1:16pm EDT

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said at a July 27, 2011 hearing about the radicalization of Somali-Americans in the U.S. that Congress should hold hearings on 'right-wing extremists.' ( Starr)

( – Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) railed against House Republicans on Thursday, saying separating the food stamp program from the farm bill will “defeat starving children.”

“The only thing that this House will do when it votes today is defeat starving children,” Jackson Lee said. “It will again put starving children in the abyss of the uncaring attitude of my friends, who for the first time in decades are separating the heart line of the Farm bill, the nutrition program, the Supplemental nutrition program, the food stamps program.”

The agricultural bill passed 216-208 after Republicans removed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from the measure.

“I am glad to stand with the Democratic caucus and the Congressional Black caucus and others to be able to say hunger is silent,” Jackson Lee said in a sometimes incoherent floor speech. “There’s no one on this floor today, no child on that microphone standing over here telling you that their belly is protruding because they have not eaten.

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“There is no one on this floor today that goes to a summer program and did not eat because their breakfast program is tied to the school and they’re out of school and summer brings about hunger,” she said.

Jackson Lee then appeared to say that the Department of Agriculture’s nutrition programs give “$300 bills” so parents can feed their children in the summer.

“There’s no one that has told you that families have an extra $300 bill in the summer time to feed their children,” she said. “And for those who do not have it, no one has told you that the lack of protein and a diet leads to disease and decay of teeth and bones, the very children we say are a priority in this place.

“In decades, you have never separated the supplemental nutrition program,” Jackson Lee continued. “$20 billion cut, $3 billion, making it $23 billion in cuts. You’ll never put that on the floor. They’ll slide it through, because all the folk want is a piece of a sound bite at home to say they believe in deficit reduction.”

“I believe in life of the children, I believe in growing our children,” she said. “Vote no! Vote no! Vote no! It is ridiculous what you’re doing to our children.”

The FARRM Act, which stands for Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management, narrowly passed on Thursday, saving the Republican majority from a second defeat.

A $940 billion version of the farm bill was voted down last month, with 62 Republicans objecting to its high price tag and demanding more cuts in the food stamp program. Also, 172 Democrats voted against the measure, because it would have cut $2 billion from SNAP’s $80 billion budget.

The passed version of the bill omitted food stamps, which typically accounts for 80 percent of Farm bill spending.

A record 47 million Americans are on food stamps, which spent $88.6 billion in 2012.  Also, 101 million Americans participate in at least one of the 15 food assistance programs offered by the USDA, a figure higher than the 97.2 million full-time private sector workers in 2012.

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