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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019

Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 10, 2019
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KILDEE. Madam Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding and for his leadership in bringing this legislation, which I support, to the floor, legislation that would fund the Department of Agriculture for the rest of the year.

This bill would end part of the shutdown that this President has orchestrated and fund the Department of Agriculture, which helps people from going hungry and supports our farmers.

With the shutdown of the Department of Agriculture, we are not implementing the farm bill that we passed here, which means we are not helping increase access to fruits and vegetables through programs like the Double Up Food Bucks program in Michigan. We are not helping struggling farmers sign up for crop insurance, our best risk mitigation tool. The agriculture industry is already being hurt by President Trump's poor trade practices. This is just another attack on them.

Also, programs cannot proceed to address drinking water needs in our rural communities. We have places like Oscoda in my home district experiencing a drinking water emergency from PFAS. They have relied on the Department of Agriculture for help. That help won't be available.

By passing this bill, we put thousands of Michigan workers back to work. We ensure families who rely on food nutrition assistance will get the help they need. Right now, they are only guaranteed that help through the end of February.

Additionally, there are contractors who are essentially doing much of the same work as government employees but are not getting paid and will not see a paycheck when all of this is over.

During this Trump shutdown, these hardworking employees don't know where their next paycheck is coming from. They can't turn to their parents like some can when they run out of money to pay their bills. They need help for healthcare. They need help to pay for childcare. They need to be able to cover their housing costs. They need to be able to buy food for their families. They can't plan for their own future when they don't know what they are going to be able to do next week.

President Trump is using these families and farmers who work or depend on the Department of Agriculture as pawns in a political game. We may have disagreements, but we should never, ever shut the government down in order to achieve something that the President and his party are unwilling to submit to the legislative process.