8:02 PM EDT

Joseph Skeen, R-NM 2nd

Mr. SKEEN. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, I hate to do this, but I rise in opposition to this amendment. All programs within the bill were put on the table as we began to make funding decisions under the tight allocation that we had received. No one can deny the importance of commodity assistance programs, but to use as an offset funds from the Agricultural Research Service to find ways to help farmers, who are less than 2 percent of the Nation's population, to feed this country and much of the world, is not acceptable.

In addition, Mr. Chairman, we provided about $6 million more in this account than the President requested for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program for fiscal year 2000 and maintained TFAP administrative funds at $45 million. These are the only two programs within the Commodity Assistance account.

Mr. Chairman, I oppose the amendment.

8:03 PM EDT

Joseph Skeen, R-NM 2nd

Mr. SKEEN. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, I hate to do this, but I rise in opposition to this amendment. All programs within the bill were put on the table as we began to make funding decisions under the tight allocation that we had received. No one can deny the importance of commodity assistance programs, but to use as an offset funds from the Agricultural Research Service to find ways to help farmers, who are less than 2 percent of the Nation's population, to feed this country and much of the world, is not acceptable.

In addition, Mr. Chairman, we provided about $6 million more in this account than the President requested for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program for fiscal year 2000 and maintained TFAP administrative funds at $45 million. These are the only two programs within the Commodity Assistance account.

Mr. Chairman, I oppose the amendment.

8:03 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Sanders amendment, and this may be the only disagreement that the chairman of the subcommittee and I have on this bill.

I compliment the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. SANDERS) for bringing this amendment to us to get the full body's view on this when we vote very shortly, and I support the amendment for several reasons.

One is, around this country, the feeding kitchens of America are empty. We [Page: H3581]

have an enormous need for additional food. Just the last two weekends ago the letter carriers across our country did a food drive and tried to replenish the supplies in these food banks, because this is not close to Christmas and they have been drawn down, and with all of the changes that have been made in welfare reform, for example, we do have lots of people who are hungry in

America tonight, most of them women and children.

So I would say that there is great merit in the gentleman's proposal.

In addition to that, in this bill, we were unable to fund so many worthy programs that would bring food to people, including the Senior Nutrition Program where there had been a proposal to provide a small subsidy so that seniors would not have to pay so much for lunches when they go into some of their lunch programs. We were not able to include that in this bill.

Finally, I will support in this bill and in any subsequent bills any effort that would lift commodities off this market in order to try to help get prices up for our farmers. This bill itself, in the body of this bill, we were not able to provide the kind of surplus commodity assistance that we would have hoped for. We have done some, but we just have not done enough.

I would say to the author of the amendment, it is difficult for me to take money from the Agricultural Research Service. I would hope that as we move toward conference we might be able to find other ways to fund this very worthy proposal. I will vote for the gentleman's amendment when the time comes for all of the reasons that I have listed, but I would hope that we might be able to find other offsets, because truly we know that the future of American agriculture rests in research, and our bounty

is directly related to the investments we make in so many crops.

8:03 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Sanders amendment, and this may be the only disagreement that the chairman of the subcommittee and I have on this bill.

I compliment the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. SANDERS) for bringing this amendment to us to get the full body's view on this when we vote very shortly, and I support the amendment for several reasons.

One is, around this country, the feeding kitchens of America are empty. We [Page: H3581]

have an enormous need for additional food. Just the last two weekends ago the letter carriers across our country did a food drive and tried to replenish the supplies in these food banks, because this is not close to Christmas and they have been drawn down, and with all of the changes that have been made in welfare reform, for example, we do have lots of people who are hungry in

America tonight, most of them women and children.

So I would say that there is great merit in the gentleman's proposal.

In addition to that, in this bill, we were unable to fund so many worthy programs that would bring food to people, including the Senior Nutrition Program where there had been a proposal to provide a small subsidy so that seniors would not have to pay so much for lunches when they go into some of their lunch programs. We were not able to include that in this bill.

Finally, I will support in this bill and in any subsequent bills any effort that would lift commodities off this market in order to try to help get prices up for our farmers. This bill itself, in the body of this bill, we were not able to provide the kind of surplus commodity assistance that we would have hoped for. We have done some, but we just have not done enough.

I would say to the author of the amendment, it is difficult for me to take money from the Agricultural Research Service. I would hope that as we move toward conference we might be able to find other ways to fund this very worthy proposal. I will vote for the gentleman's amendment when the time comes for all of the reasons that I have listed, but I would hope that we might be able to find other offsets, because truly we know that the future of American agriculture rests in research, and our bounty

is directly related to the investments we make in so many crops.

8:06 PM EDT

Bernie Sanders, I-VT

Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I hope the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) understands, I am not against ag research. I know that the gentleman has had a difficult time trying to fit in all of the needs. I do not disagree with the gentleman, and I do not disagree with the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR). I just think that when we have senior citizens going into the hospitals suffering from malnutrition, that is an issue that cannot be ignored.

I would raise that to a higher level and ask for the support of the body in the passage of this amendment.

8:06 PM EDT

Dennis Kucinich, D-OH 10th

Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Sanders amendment. I think that a $10 million increase for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program is warranted.

I represent a district in Cleveland, Ohio, and in my district there are many seniors who depend on programs like this for their sustenance.

There are those of us who have a prayer that we say that includes the words, ``Give us this day our daily bread.'' This is a very humble and simple request that people have. In America, where there are so many people hungry, where there are so many people who hunger amidst so much plenty, what would it matter to give a mere $10 million to help our senior citizens have improved nutrition, to reduce the waiting lists for Meals on Wheels, to make it possible for those millions of Americans who rely

on emergency food assistance to be able to get some help.

We in this country have a moral obligation to provide for those who are without. It is a work of mercy to feed the hungry, and we should with regard to the great power of this government, with the billions of dollars that are spent on so many things that are questionable, that we have an opportunity here to take $10 million and feed some people, give them an opportunity to be better fed so that they do not end up in the hospital from malnutrition.

I think the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. SANDERS) has come up with a wonderful amendment, and while I have the greatest respect for the committee which has created this bill, I have to say that the bill can be improved and it can be improved with the help of the gentleman's amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I would be happy to yield to the gentleman from Vermont, Mr. SANDERS, so that he can have a few more minutes to explain the importance of this amendment.

8:06 PM EDT

Dennis Kucinich, D-OH 10th

Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Sanders amendment. I think that a $10 million increase for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program is warranted.

I represent a district in Cleveland, Ohio, and in my district there are many seniors who depend on programs like this for their sustenance.

There are those of us who have a prayer that we say that includes the words, ``Give us this day our daily bread.'' This is a very humble and simple request that people have. In America, where there are so many people hungry, where there are so many people who hunger amidst so much plenty, what would it matter to give a mere $10 million to help our senior citizens have improved nutrition, to reduce the waiting lists for Meals on Wheels, to make it possible for those millions of Americans who rely

on emergency food assistance to be able to get some help.

We in this country have a moral obligation to provide for those who are without. It is a work of mercy to feed the hungry, and we should with regard to the great power of this government, with the billions of dollars that are spent on so many things that are questionable, that we have an opportunity here to take $10 million and feed some people, give them an opportunity to be better fed so that they do not end up in the hospital from malnutrition.

I think the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. SANDERS) has come up with a wonderful amendment, and while I have the greatest respect for the committee which has created this bill, I have to say that the bill can be improved and it can be improved with the help of the gentleman's amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I would be happy to yield to the gentleman from Vermont, Mr. SANDERS, so that he can have a few more minutes to explain the importance of this amendment.

8:09 PM EDT

Bernie Sanders, I-VT

Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Ohio for his strong support. I think the essence of the problem that we have as serious legislators is that we are confronting a budget which in many ways prevents us from doing the things that we have to do, and that is not the chairman's fault and it is not the ranking member's fault. But I think when we talk about priorities in the United States, in this great country, in this wealthy country, how can we not address the reality that there

are senior citizens who are going to the hospital and the administrators and doctors there are telling us they are malnourished? We are wasting huge sums of money spending dollars on hospital care that could have been prevented if we would provide adequate nutrition to our senior citizens.

The same thing is true with low-income pregnant women who are giving birth to low-weight babies.

So again, I would not argue about ag research. That is important. But I think what we are asking for is taking $13 million out of an increase of $50 million to use $10 million for the expansion of this commodities program.

8:12 PM EDT

James T. Walsh, R-NY 25th

Mr. WALSH. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I rise, regrettably, in opposition to the gentleman's amendment, because I think he is attempting to do something that is proper and good, but I would point out to the gentleman that all of these funds are very competitive with each other. We have done our level best to fully fund the nutrition programs which make up the majority of this bill.

As the gentleman knows, and we have worked together on funding the Emergency Food Assistance Program, it is a very important program. We have raised the funding for that program, the mandatory programs, food stamps and WIC, and we have done our level best to fund those as close to full funding as we can.

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program, the program the gentleman wants to add an additional $10 million to, is funded above the President's budget request level.

So we have gone out of our way to try to find the discretionary funds to meet the needs of these programs. We [Page: H3582]

just do not have enough money to meet everybody's priorities.