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Providing for Consideration of H. Con. Res. 27, Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2016

Floor Speech

Date: March 24, 2015
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, the last 8 years have been very difficult. We are recovering from the single greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. This recovery hasn't been easy, and it has forced us to make difficult decisions. Working on budget priorities and wrestling with spending cuts have been difficult, to say the least.

Our economy is beginning to turn around, thanks in large part to an increase in hiring and the success of the Affordable Care Act; yet we still must wrestle with the Nation's budget. It is true, as my Republican friends say, that tough choices have to be made.

Why is it that every time House Republicans try to put our fiscal house in order, they ask those among us who can least afford it to make the most sacrifices?

Mr. Speaker, we should not balance the budget on the backs of the poor and working families. They didn't cause the financial crisis, and they shouldn't be the ones forced to get us out of this mess.

There is a lot to dislike in the Republican budget, from repealing the Affordable Care Act to ending Medicare as we know it, to slashing Pell grants. Quite frankly, it is awful.

I want to focus on what the Republican budget does to SNAP, the Nation's premier antihunger program. Once again, the Republican budget would turn SNAP into a block grant, resulting in sharp cuts of $125 billion. On top of that, the Republican budget requires a cut of at least another $1 billion--maybe more--from SNAP.

Mr. Speaker, SNAP is one of the only remaining basic protections for the poor. For many of the poorest Americans, SNAP is the only form of income assistance that they receive. The numbers don't lie, but the stories are far more powerful.

Just listen to the people who rely on SNAP to make ends meet. Thousands of people sent messages to Congress written on paper plates, pleading with us not to cut SNAP.

One woman wrote:

SNAP means that, as a single mother, I was able to finish college, feed my family, and find a career where I am able to advocate for a program that I know works.

Another person wrote:

SNAP means dignity. SNAP matters to me because no senior should have to choose between buying food or paying for their medication. When I was a child, my father left, and the only reason we could afford food was because of food stamps. I never got a chance to say thank you, so thank you.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why House Republicans are hell-bent on arbitrarily cutting a program that feeds hungry kids, seniors, and working families. These SNAP cuts are deep and hurtful. We have already seen how the farm bill cuts $8.6 billion, how those cuts are wreaking havoc among the hungry. Imagine what a cut of $125 billion-plus would do.

Republicans claim that SNAP spending is out of control; yet the Congressional Budget Office shows that SNAP spending is going down as the economy recovers and people go back to work.

Last night, in the Rules Committee, I offered an amendment to strike these SNAP cuts from the Republican budget. The Republicans blocked my amendment while, at the same time, increasing spending for the Pentagon by over $90 billion, without even paying for it.

Mr. Speaker, budgets are moral documents; and what the Republicans are doing, in my opinion, is immoral. Penalizing working families--and, yes, the majority of people on SNAP who can work do work--penalizing these families by taking away food in the guise of fiscal prudence is just wrong. Cutting SNAP, while increasing unchecked spending for the Pentagon, is hypocritical.

Let's be clear. There is a cost to hunger in America. Hungry kids don't learn in school. Senior citizens who take their medication on an empty stomach end up in the emergency room. Workers who miss meals are less productive at work.

Cutting SNAP, a program that puts food on the table for hungry families, is just a rotten thing to do. Shame on anybody in this House who votes for a budget that increases hunger in America.

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Mr. McGOVERN. I would argue that the problem of hunger in America is actually increasing our deficit and our debt; but I would also argue, if you want to find ways to balance the budget, maybe go after some of those corporate tax breaks, instead of going after poor people.

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