Chair DeLauro Statement at Full Committee Markup of Fiscal Year 2023 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Funding Bill

2022-06-23 10:52

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2023 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill:

Thank you, Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Harris, for your efforts on this bill. I want to also say thank you to the subcommittee staff for their work.

Chairman Bishop, with your leadership, this subcommittee has truly met the moment. Along with hearings to understand the changing needs of the agencies and programs you fund, you were at the forefront of our oversight of the infant formula crisis and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) response to it. When it was clear that we had to act to protect babies from dangerous formula and to address supply chain issues, your partnership and leadership was invaluable.

I know how important the investments we make here are to the safety and wellbeing of Americans everywhere – especially our farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. It is why, in the 2022 government spending package, we provided historic funding to tackle hunger, lift up rural communities, rebuild our food safety infrastructure, and support equality for historically underserved communities. This bill builds on these historic investments with $27.2 billion, a critical increase of more than $2 billion over 2022.

As our nation continues to feel the impact of the pandemic, rising costs, and supply chain issues, we are helping Americans struggling to make ends meet with investments to food programs. We are ensuring 6.2 million low-income women, infants, and children access safe and healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables, with $6 billion for the WIC program. And we provide the 42 million Americans eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – the Food Stamps program – the funding they desperately need.  

With $100 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) network of emergency feeding organizations, we are supporting the storage and distribution of USDA Foods. This is the highest level ever in the program’s history.

And as we invest in programs to feed all Americans, the United States is a nation with abundant food, and no child, no one, should go to bed hungry every night in the United States of America. We fight child hunger with Child Nutrition programs like school meals. The number of children struggling with hunger in this country was already too high, and it grew during the pandemic. This is a tragedy. This bill gets us one step closer to fighting hunger by funding roughly 5.6 billion school lunches and snacks and expanding school nutrition funding to feed more kids during their summer break.

And I am pleased with the bipartisan agreement this week on the extension of school meal waivers that ensures children are fed through the summer and supports schools and daycares throughout the school year. I have said from the start that failure is not an option. It is our responsibility to ensure that our children do not go hungry. School meal waivers have given stability to hundreds of children who, prior to this program, likely did not know where their next meal was coming from.

And as we strengthen our commitment to fighting hunger here, we are funding programs that fight hunger abroad, including the most funding ever for the Food for Peace grants and for the McGovern-Dole program.

Ensuring everyone has access to food is meaningless if the food supply they rely on is not safe. The recent contamination of infant formula and the resulting shortage have made clear that we need a robust and a safe food safety infrastructure. This bill provides more than $3.6 billion in discretionary funding for the FDA to keep our food safe, respond to food outbreaks, address the opioid crisis, monitor the supply chain, improve inspections, and conduct oversight of domestic and foreign drug manufacturers.

At the same time, we are ensuring that the FDA has the resources and inspection staff to conduct inspections and to thoroughly be able to review infant formula manufacturing contracts. This is an issue that is incredibly important to the moms and dads who rely on formula to feed their babies. It should be equally important to all of us. The Chairman and I have worked hard to address this unacceptable and preventable crisis. That is why, despite the achievements in this bill, I continue to advocate for a single food safety agency. At the very least, we must ensure there is a designated Deputy Commissioner for food safety at the FDA, someone with relevant experience and background in food safety. 

Market consolidation is impacting our food supply not only in baby formula, but also in everything from the meatpacking to the cereal industries. The $1.8 billion investments we are making for food safety, inspection programs, and staff are critical to keeping Americans safe.

Finally, this bill lifts up farming and rural communities. Rural communities are in need of our support. And with over $4.2 billion for rural development programs, we will transform the way we invest in the resources that rural communities have been seeking. The programs we fund will spur economic development in transformative ways.

This bill strengthens support for rural housing to meet the needs of rural Americans. We are providing record investments to help low-income rural families. We are supporting historically underserved Native American Tribes access home loans with a new ‘re-lending program.’ And with $1.5 billion in rental assistance and vouchers for rural communities, we are ensuring low-income families and the elderly can afford to stay in their homes. In total, we help 140,000 rural families keep a roof over their heads.

We expand rural broadband, connecting rural communities to the health, economic, and educational services available through the internet.

The investments in this bill are so important. They support those who need us most by fighting hunger, safeguarding our food supply, and lifting up rural communities. I am proud of this bill and the impact I know it will have.

And I want to thank the Chair and the Ranking Member. And I also want to thank the subcommittee staff. On the majority side: Martha Foley, Diem-Linh Jones, Perry Yates, Joe Layman, Justin Masucci, Dallas Selle, and Yana Zamora. And Pam Miller on the minority side. I again thank the Chairman and Ranking Member. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

117th Congress