THREATS TO SNAP PROGRAM; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 75
(House of Representatives - May 09, 2018)

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                        THREATS TO SNAP PROGRAM

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2017, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Raskin) is recognized 
for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be leading this Special 
Order hour on the SNAP program and the current threats against it in 
the farm bill.
  SNAP, of course, is America's most important antihunger program, 
serving more than 42 million Americans and delivering improved 
economic, health, and nutrition outcomes for millions of our families, 
reducing poverty and food insecurity.
  To kick us off tonight, I yield to the gentlewoman from the great 
State of Washington, Pramila Jayapal, my distinguished colleague.
  Ms. JAYAPAL. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his continued 
leadership on these Special Order hours, and also for his leadership in 
the Progressive Caucus, and on the Judiciary Committee.
  I am here to talk about SNAP because I am sort of dumbfounded that we 
are where we are. I serve as the vice ranking member on the Budget 
Committee, and I saw firsthand how a Republican tax scam, the tax cut, 
was pushed through in favor of the top 1 percent and the largest 
corporations, creating a transfer of wealth from the middle class and 
working people to the wealthiest; creating what will be a $1 trillion 
deficit according to the Congressional Budget Office next year; and 
then coming back and saying somehow we don't have enough money to feed 
our kids.
  That, to me, is really not just ludicrous, but it is outrageous, and 
I am deeply saddened by it because the program that we are talking 
about is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program--that is what 
SNAP stands for--and it feeds 42 million American families across the 
country. This is a target of our colleagues on the Republican side, 
using the farm bill to take this crucial program away from Americans 
who need it the most. The bill would strip critical food assistance 
from unemployed and employed workers by shortening the time limits to 
be eligible for SNAP for millions of people.
  My home State of Washington in 2016 received $1.1 billion in SNAP 
funding, and there and across the country, as I said, 42 million 
families benefit from this critical program. These are workers and 
families who face low wages, unreliable schedules, underemployment, and 
unstable incomes. They all rely on SNAP to buy groceries and put food 
on the table.
  So we are talking about stripping food assistance from families and 
individuals with children under 6 if they can't consistently work 20 
hours a week. And it would strip food assistance for a whole year if 
that requirement isn't met.
  Cutting SNAP is not magically going to reduce the deficit, a deficit 
that was dramatically increased by our Republican colleagues when they 
passed the tax scam, and so this is just an attempt to take resources 
from the most vulnerable and to leave these 40 million families 
stranded on the side of the road.
  The American Dream isn't just about individuals lifting themselves up 
by their own bootstraps. It is the idea that we are all better off when 
we are all

[[Page H3870]]

better off; that we need to lift up every person, and make sure every 
person has bootstraps to be lifted up by.
  Today, my office received a call from Dave in my district who works 
at our University District Food Bank, and he called just imploring 
Congress not to allow this to happen. Our community food banks in red 
and blue districts across the country will not be able to keep up with 
the need if we gut SNAP. Yesterday, I met with Aaron from Food 
Lifeline, who knows from experience that for every one meal provided by 
a food bank in our community, SNAP provides 12.

  Yesterday, I spoke at a rally and we had a constituent of mine--a 
woman named Tina--who came out from Washington State. She is a single 
mom. She has got a 9-year-old kid, and she was just begging and 
pleading for us to please keep this program.
  The reality is that SNAP is one of the most cost-effective public 
assistance programs. It quickly and directly gets food assistance to 
those who need it. So why would we wage a war on that program or a war 
on poor people by cutting these essential benefits?
  Mr. Speaker, I know that Mr. Raskin shares my deep commitment to make 
sure that we provide these essential benefits for families across the 
country, and I believe that there are colleagues on the other side who 
will share this commitment once they understand what this is doing to 
poor folks in their districts who just need a hand up; kids who need 
food on the table--fruits, vegetables, healthy foods--so that they can 
grow and nourish their bodies and their souls, and help contribute to 
our economy. And that is what SNAP does.
  So I urge all of my colleagues on the Republican side to join us 
Democrats in fighting for our kids and fighting for nutrition, and 
fighting for this critical program.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congresswoman Jayapal for her 
terrific leadership on the SNAP program and for defending the ability 
of all of our families to not send their kids to bed at night hungry. 
That is really what this is all about.
  People on the SNAP program receive an average of only $1.40 per meal, 
and in order to get assistance, of course, they have got to complete a 
detailed application process with meticulous documentation of their 
name, their legal status in the country, their identity, their income, 
their address, and so on. Ninety percent of participants are in 
households with children under the age of 18, or with elderly people, 
or with individuals with disabilities.
  Mr. Speaker, I am going to yield next to our distinguished colleague 
from Minnesota (Mr. Ellison).
  Mr. ELLISON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I have just a few observations. The Supplemental 
Nutrition Assistance Program is a good program. It is the number one 
food assistance program our country has. And it has gotten families 
through tough times, for sure. The truth is, most people who use SNAP 
aren't on it very long. They find themselves in a rough patch. They use 
SNAP. They get off.
  Programs that impose artificial timelines and kick people off or deny 
them or have work requirements, ignore the fact that people do not get 
on SNAP to stay on SNAP unless they are too young, too old, or too sick 
to work.
  Generally, people are trying to get jobs. The irony of this is that 
from a Republican standpoint, it seems like they are happy to give 
really, really rich people money without any expectations. And, yet, if 
a low-income person needs some help, money from the government, now all 
of a sudden we have got to put all kind of restrictions and all kind of 
waits on it.
  Why does help and assistance from the government not ruin rich 
peoples' worth ethic, but it seems in the Republican mind to ruin the 
work ethic of working people and low-income people? It is totally 
ironic. It must be premised on the myth that somehow species of 
humanity are different from one another, and they are just not. People 
are the same.
  I want to just point out as well, that if you really want to do 
something meaningful, why don't we pass legislation that would stop 
fast-food companies from conspiring with each other to restrict wages? 
There are two bills that got introduced. One is an antipoaching law 
that means that the employers can't come together and agree that they 
are not going to hire each other's workers if they leave looking for 
better pay, and the other one is a provision that would ban this 
process of noncompete clauses for people who work in fast-food.
  These two bills together conspired to restrict the pay of working 
people. They keep wages down. What if we did real antitrust legislation 
and stopped huge companies from dominating the entire market, creating 
a single buyer, a monopsony, which then has the power to hold people 
  I just got through talking to some employees at Toys-R-Us. Their 
company was bought by some private equity firms. A lot of debt was 
piled on to them. The bonuses were given out to the top management. 
They took off on their golden parachutes. The company goes through 
bankruptcy, and now it is closing 800 stores and laying off 30,000 
  The bottom line is: SNAP helps people in tough economic times. If 
they are able-bodied, I am sure they want to work. They don't need 
these punitive kicks to go to work. They just need an opportunity to 
get back up on their feet. These programs are insulting, demeaning, 
unnecessary, and they shouldn't exist.
  If we really want to give working people an opportunity, let's 
increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Let's support the Employee 
Free Choice Act which can give them a voice on the job so they can 
negotiate with their employers for better wages.
  It seems like Republicans don't want to do anything to meaningfully 
change the lives of working people, but, work requirements, drug tests, 
all this sort service moralistic stuff, it doesn't work. It is a waste 
of money and there are way better ways to do what you say you are 
trying to do.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. 
Ellison) very much. He makes an excellent point which is, more than 
two-thirds of SNAP participants are in families with children, and in 
the majority of those, you have at least one working adult in the 

                              {time}  1700

  So despite efforts to portray this as some kind of welfare, we are 
talking about millions of Americans who are working but still can't 
afford to feed their families. That is what the SNAP program is about. 
It is about helping working families meet the basic nutritional 
standards of our people.
  We are the richest society in the history of the world, and we can 
certainly support working families, through the SNAP program, to 
benefit from the great bounty that is the agricultural output of the 
United States of America, which is the breadbasket of the world.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield now to our colleague from California, Nanette 
Barragan. I thank Ms. Barragan very much for joining us.
  Ms. BARRAGAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Maryland for 
  When we talk about SNAP, I often think about my own childhood. When I 
was a kid, I remember my parents needing some assistance. We would get 
a bag of groceries that had block yellow cheese in it; it had things we 
could use to make some food. It was temporary. It was to get us through 
a tough time.
  SNAP is our Nation's cornerstone antihunger program, providing 
millions of American households with access to food assistance. 
Children living in these households are also eligible to receive free 
school meals, ensuring that they are not worried about going hungry 
when they should be free to focus on their academics.
  In California alone, 4.1 million people rely upon SNAP, with 74 
percent of participants being part of families with children and half 
of participants already being part of working families. In my district, 
California's 44th Congressional District that covers areas like 
Compton, Watts, and San Pedro, 17 percent of households depend upon 
SNAP to assist them in feeding their families. SNAP not only provides 
families in need with vital nutritional assistance; it also helps to 
stimulate local economies. For every dollar invested in SNAP, nearly $2 
are generated in economic activity.

[[Page H3871]]

  That is why the current efforts to ``reform'' SNAP are so misguided. 
These include the recent Harvest Box proposal, which would reduce or 
eliminate a SNAP recipient's access to nutritious products like fresh 
produce and meats, taking away their right to choose how best to 
fulfill their family's specific nutritional needs. Additionally, the 
recently unveiled farm bill expands work requirements for SNAP. This 
would make it harder for our most vulnerable to access food assistance, 
knocking them back down when we should be offering them a hand up.
  I am proud to support SNAP, and I will continue fighting with my 
colleagues to ensure that no American has to struggle to put food on 
their table.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Ms. Barragan very much for her 
leadership in defending the SNAP program. She talked about California. 
I just want to add to her point, a point about my home State in 
Maryland, where the SNAP program reaches 684,000 residents of my State, 
which is more than 1 in 10 people who live in the State.
  Nationally, of course, it is 42 million people who participate in the 
SNAP program, which is 13 percent of the total population. And that is 
not a stagnant, permanent pool of Americans; that is a transient group 
because people move in and move out according to their economic 
  The SNAP program is a reflection of our investment in ourselves as a 
people and our determination that here, in the wealthiest country on 
Earth, nobody should be sending their kids to bed at night hungry.
  Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to yield to our distinguished colleague 
from New Jersey, Bonnie Watson Coleman.
  Mrs. WATSON COLEMAN. I want to thank my colleague from Maryland for 
yielding to me so I might speak on an issue that is very important to 
all of us.
  I want to speak on behalf of the 43 million people who are SNAP 
recipients, many of whom are working each and every day. I want to talk 
about the fact that those are individuals whom we consider working 
poor. Mr. Raskin mentioned that SNAP was a reflection of something. 
SNAP is a reflection of the fact that we have so many jobs that don't 
pay adequate wages. SNAP is a reflection of the raw deal that our 
citizens are getting under an administration that would choose to give 
trillions of dollars worth of money to those people who are already 
rich, asking nothing in return for that horrible tax scam, and, at the 
same time, asking those at the lowest income spectrum in the entire 
United States of America to work so that they can be supplemented with 
meals that are $1.40 a meal.
  That is hypocrisy. That is disgusting. We should not even be having a 
discussion about whether or not we should be eliminating, reducing, or 
changing a SNAP benefit. We should make sure that there is adequacy for 
every child and every family to not go hungry in this country; and, at 
the same time, we should be looking at giving our citizens who have had 
a really raw deal over these last couple of years a better deal, a 
better deal with better wages that we would like to proffer so that 
individuals wouldn't have to work and get supplemental food assistance 
as well.
  Better jobs. Better skills. Better opportunities.
  I am going to close very shortly on this. I was at a hearing today on 
the issue of SNAP and what we were planning to do with SNAP and what 
were the recommendations for the SNAP program. And I heard from my 
colleagues on the other side of the aisle some very disgusting 
insinuations or accusations about people who were on SNAP who were 
perhaps sitting on their porch drinking a cup of coffee or whatever. 
And the assumption was that that person was sitting on his duff as 
opposed to out there working, and he was a recipient of SNAP. You know 
nothing about that person's situation. But that person probably was a 
member of the minority class.
  And we talk about getting a job. Well, I said to those people who 
came and testified today at our hearing: You have come here with some 
Pollyanna idea that this country is a country of equality. Well, it may 
have been working towards equality, but we are experiencing a period 
right now where we have the greatest sense of inequality we have had in 
decades, in hundreds of years.

  We are underemployed. We are unemployed. The people who are working 
every day for wages to bring home are the ones who are paying for every 
tax break that is given to the 1 percent in this country. You can give 
millions and millions of dollars in the State of New Jersey even to the 
wealthiest 1 percent and ask nothing in return. If you are an 
individual, you are asked nothing in return. If you are a corporation, 
you are not even asked to create a job, a training opportunity, or to 
increase wages.
  Do not talk to me about those people who are on SNAP and what they 
should be doing. Talk to me about what America should be doing for all 
of its people, because we are all members of the human race. Some of us 
just weren't born rich. Some of us just don't have the opportunity to 
go around with a silver spoon in our mouth.
  This Congress should be ashamed of itself for not taking care of the 
needs of those who simply need government to recognize that it 
represents everybody, not just the very wealthy. I thank Mr. Raskin for 
the opportunity.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mrs. Coleman for her comments. She 
has made some very important points, and I wonder if I would pursue a 
couple with her before she goes, perhaps have a moment for colloquy.
  The first is the point she was making about the growing economic 
inequality in the country. That is something that has been on the minds 
of Americans, at the very least, since the Occupy movement took place 
after the 2008 mortgage meltdown crisis, which cost 11 million 
Americans their jobs, 12 million Americans their homes, and created an 
economic dislocation panic across the country, which thankfully 
President Obama and his administration moved to address, unleashing 60 
straight months of economic growth and expansion in the country.
  Today we have an administration which vowed to drain the swamp when 
it came to Washington. It seems like they have moved into the swamp and 
they are just draining the treasury instead: $1.5 trillion added to our 
budget deficit from the tax scam giveaway, which you referenced.
  I wonder if she would reflect for a moment on the relationship 
between a vision of government, which is that it is a money-making 
operation for a handful of people, and growing inequality and poverty 
among other parts of the population.
  Mrs. WATSON COLEMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Raskin for raising that 
issue. I think that that is one of the most prominent issues that 
people of this country need to understand.
  Government has a significant role. That role is to protect the 
opportunities, rights, and privileges of all people, to create the 
level playing field. What we have experienced in this administration, 
in this Republican-controlled Congress, is that we care not. We 
prioritize the value of human beings based upon how much money they are 
worth or how much money they can get.
  So we are taking resources that should not be taken out of our 
treasury; we are then giving them in heaps and piles to the very, very 
wealthy; and then we are talking about deficits that are being created 
and how we need to make up those deficits. And how do we look to do 
that? Well, we look to do things like reduce the benefits of Medicaid, 
mess with Social Security, take away SNAP from people who need 
supplemental nutritional assistance.
  We talk about this America not being one America anymore. This is an 
America of the haves and the have-nots. Never have we seen this 
tremendous diversity or disparity between the very, very, very wealthy 
and those who are struggling.
  And those who are struggling get this. My colleagues think of poor 
people as lazy people who are not doing what they can do. We are poor 
people in this country--hungry, homeless people--because of our 
policies, because of our budget, which is the greatest reflection of 
our priorities and our values. Our values are askew right now, and we 
need to make sure that we are looking after that responsibility for 
which we were elected.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, let me ask Mrs. Coleman one final question 
before she goes. She made a point before which I thought was profound,

[[Page H3872]]

which is that millions and millions of people on the SNAP program are 
working, but they are not making enough money to support their family 
in a dignified way, in a way that lives up to even the most minimal 
expectations for health and nutrition. That is what the SNAP program is 
all about. In a way, you could view the SNAP program as a subsidy to 
the employers of these people because we are taking care of them 
because their salaries don't.
  Now, I could understand someone saying: Let's get rid of the SNAP 
program and make those employers pay a real living wage to these 
people, or let's make them pay a full living wage and give them all 
healthcare. But that is not the proposal that we are getting from our 
friends from across the aisle. They want to reduce the SNAP program at 
the same time that they don't want to increase the minimum wage and 
give people benefits.
  I wonder if she could just explain what the theory is about how these 
people are going to survive.
  Mrs. WATSON COLEMAN. Mr. Speaker, I think that it isn't so much a 
theory of survival as it is the possibility of not surviving at all. I 
think that we are finding ourselves in a situation right now where 
those who have less have the rawest deal they have had in a very long 
time. And I am proud to associate myself with my Democratic colleagues 
in this caucus who want a better deal for those people.
  We want wages that you can live off of, that you don't have to rely 
upon assistance from anyone in order to be able to put food on your 
table, put a roof over your head or heat in your home. We want to make 
sure that everybody has an opportunity to learn and to have a good job. 
So we want to see investment in jobs, in training, in apprenticeships, 
in opportunities to do better.
  We could do better with an infrastructure program that not only makes 
sense because we have a crumbling infrastructure on so many levels, but 
it also generates jobs. Generates jobs, which generates good incomes. 
Good incomes generate a desire to purchase. Desire to purchase helps to 
build our small businesses. We are looking in the wrong places, and we 
need to look at where we can grow our economy.

  Our economy doesn't grow when we just simply continue to enrich the 
rich to be richer and richer and richest and to put that money overseas 
somewhere or anyplace that they want to put it but not to invest it in 
this country, in this economy. We need a better chance for everyone. We 
need a better deal for all of our citizens.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mrs. Coleman for her strong voice 
and for participating in tonight's Special Order hour.
  Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to yield to our distinguished colleague 
from Connecticut, Rosa DeLauro, who has been one of Congress' leading 
champions for the security of America's working people and for building 
an American middle class that includes everybody.
  I am thrilled that Ms. DeLauro could join us, and I yield to her now.
  Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Congressman Raskin and my 
other colleagues here this evening as we talk about what is going on in 
the lives of families in our country today.
  I rise to defend the Food Stamp program and to denounce the severe 
and immoral--I view them as immoral--cuts by the majority's farm bill.

                              {time}  1715

  You know, everyone knows that millions of people are struggling in 
this country. The biggest economic problem we have is that people are 
in jobs that just don't pay them enough money; they can't pay the high 
cost of healthcare; they can't afford to put food on the table; they 
don't take vacations; they don't take retirement; they are barely 
making it.
  And with regard to hunger, it is truly remarkable. Over 15 million 
children, nearly one in four in our country, live in the heavy shadow 
of what is going on in working families today. In my district, the 
Third District of Connecticut--Connecticut is the State that is 
statistically the richest in the Nation, and that is because of 
Fairfield County and a whole variety of other issues. But one in seven 
people in my district don't know where their next meal is coming from. 
People want to talk about that, they put a nice term around it, ``food 
insecure.'' That is not food insecurity. It is hunger--hunger in the 
United States of America.
  So, you know, the social safety net programs are vital tools for 
reducing poverty and hunger, and the food stamp program is one of the 
most powerful programs we have for ending hunger in the United States. 
Last year, our Nation's largest nutrition safety net, food stamps, 
prevented 42.2 million people from going hungry. That includes 20 
million children, 4.8 million low-income seniors, and 1.5 million low-
income military veterans.
  Men and women who go to fight, sacrifice their families, and, in a 
number of instances, their lives, their families can't make it, and 
they are on food stamps. And what the farm bill would do was jettison 
those military families. The country needs to know about this. The food 
stamp program works. It is for those who need it the most. It has been 
successful in alleviating hunger and supporting our economy.
  In 2014, the program lifted 4.7 million people out of poverty, 
including 2.1 million children, and it has lifted more than 1.3 million 
children out of deep poverty. And the benefits go well beyond childhood 
years, as my colleague knows. We know that there is an 18 percentage 
point increase in the likelihood of completing high school with 
disadvantaged households who have had access to the SNAP program, 
evidence of significant improvements in health and economic self-
sufficiency among women.
  It is efficient. More than half of the benefits go to households in 
the deepest poverty. Over 70 percent of all the benefits go to 
households with children. But, you know, it would appear that our 
Republican colleagues appear to be more interested in reducing SNAP 
than in reducing hunger.
  We talked--a few minutes ago, you were talking about the tax bill--$2 
trillion tax cut--83 percent of those tax cuts to the richest, 
wealthiest Americans and corporations. My gosh, I will bet those folks 
are eating well every day. I bet they have three squares or more, when 
we have families who are barely able to put food on the table.
  Let me just give you a couple of notes about who is benefiting from 
the farm bill and the several loopholes.
  The farm bill eliminates means testing. Now, we all know that the 
food stamp program, they are means tested, asset tested. They can't be 
over a certain amount of money in income. They can't have more than a 
certain amount of dollars in assets. This farm bill allows millionaires 
and billionaires to get subsidies. It eliminates the means test for 
some of these folks.
  You have, under current law, family members, like siblings and adult 
children, are eligible for subsidies, but--and that is regardless of 
whether or not they live or work on the farm. What the House bill does, 
they make cousins, nieces, and nephews eligible for the subsidies as 
well. It doesn't limit subsidies to one person per farm.
  Quite frankly, as the President proposed, it doesn't require work. It 
doesn't create work requirements for farm subsidy recipients. And, you 
know, a number of these folks, they don't till the soil, they don't 
work the land, they live in Manhattan, and they still get a subsidy. 
They don't have to work the land for that.
  And what we are talking about, food stamp recipients do work, for the 
most part. And what the farm bill has done is it has said, as well, 
that funding in the bill only works out to be $30 per person per month 
for job training. What kind of job training is that? So that the bill, 
which requires working, underfunds job training in order for people to 
be able to go to work.
  One other statistic. The bill increases price guarantees by up to 15 
percent. It fails to reduce crop insurance premium subsidies from 62 
percent to 48 percent, as, quite frankly, the President proposed. It 
extends insurance company subsidies. It provides $1.5 billion in annual 
subsidies to crop insurance agencies, to insurance companies, most of 
whom are foreign based.
  The country needs to know this. And at the same time, they want to 
deny food to the children in this country. It is unspeakable, the 
direction that they are going in. It does not reflect the values of 
this great Nation.
  So, you know, if we are serious about reforming in the farm bill, 
they would

[[Page H3873]]

have included limits on agricultural subsidies. And, by the way, the 
crop insurance program, there are no eligibility caps, no payment 
limits. You know, it is all bets are off.
  I want to end with thanking my colleague for doing this. I am going 
to continue, as I know he is. I am going to continue, and I know he is 
going to continue to stand up against what are unconscionable attacks 
on America's poor working families.
  You know, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle: Stand up. 
Stand with us. Let's ensure that Congress does not endanger families 
and children by decimating our hunger programs. We need to strengthen 
the SNAP program. We need not be sabotaging it.
  I thank the gentleman for organizing this Special Order tonight. We 
need to be speaking here morning, noon, and night about what this 
administration, what this Republican majority Congress is doing to low-
income families. The food stamp program is seniors, the disabled, and 

  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Ms. DeLauro, and I would ask if she 
would be willing to stick around just for a little colloquy.
  Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, I will.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, Ms. DeLauro made some really striking 
points, and I wanted to explore them a little bit more.
  The tax bill, as we know, created a windfall bonanza of hundreds of 
billions of dollars for the wealthiest corporations and the wealthiest 
people in the country. Eighty-six percent of the benefit from the tax 
cut went to 1 percent of the people.
  The interesting thing to me was that because it went overwhelmingly 
to investors, and one-third of the investment in our companies is held 
by foreigners, a third of the benefit of this tax cut just left the 
country. It went to foreign investors in Saudi Arabia or China or 
Mexico or wherever it might be.
  Now, does it make sense for us to confer this extraordinary bonanza 
on the wealthiest people in the country and wealthy people abroad, and 
then turn around and start cutting the major antihunger assistance 
program we have got, the SNAP program? I mean, what is the morality of 
that? What is the logic of that?
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Connecticut.
  Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, there is no morality. That is it. It is 
immoral, and we have an obligation and a responsibility. And it is not 
just a social responsibility. This is a moral responsibility to make 
sure that in the land of abundance and an abundance of food, that we 
are going to look at jettisoning millions of low-income families and 
creating for them a situation where they cannot access food for 
themselves or their families, I ask the question: Who are we? It is 
immoral the direction that they are going in.
  And with the farm bill--if you wanted to just look at the farm bill--
you talked about the tax bill, and we know what direction that went in 
and who are the beneficiaries there. But again, this farm safety net is 
filled with loopholes. The top 3 percent of farms, or about 60,000 
farms in the United States receive roughly 40 percent of all farm 
subsidies. Many farms receive more than $1 million in subsidies 
annually. They don't pass any income test. They pass no asset test. The 
largesse is overwhelming.
  And the share of subsidies, the largest farms claimed, has increased 
from 11 percent in 1991 to 34 percent in 2015. You know, they are 
consistent. Watch what they do in the tax bill. Watch what they do in 
the farm bill and who benefits. Who has benefited from the tax--the tax 
scam, which is rigged for the rich? And now we have a farm bill, which 
is rigged for the rich.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I would say to Ms. DeLauro that that came 
out of the Agriculture Committee, as I understand it, on a party line 
  Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, he got that right.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, this used to be bipartisan. It used to be a 
bipartisan commitment, and now, suddenly, it fell apart with no 
participation from Democrats. It comes flying out with the idea of 
targeting the SNAP program. What is going on here?
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Connecticut.
  Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, Congressman Raskin makes such a good point. 
Let me just tell you. I looked very, very hard at this issue over the 
number of years that I have served here. I served on the Agriculture, 
Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies 
Appropriations Subcommittee. I chaired that committee for awhile, so I 
have spent more than 25 years focused in. And the issue of hunger in 
the United States has become a passion for me, and I tell you why.
  I published a book not that long ago called, ``The Least Among Us: 
Waging the Battle for the Vulnerable.'' And when I did the research for 
this book, this is what I found: that the social safety net program and 
the food stamp program was crafted by Democrats and Republicans. George 
McGovern, Bob Dole, they took a commission across the country.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, they are both from farm States.
  Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, that is right. And they said there is a 
serious problem of hunger in the United States. They came back to 
Washington, and Democratic Members and Republican Members came together 
to say that this challenge--we have to address this crisis of hunger in 
the United States, and therein lies the genesis of nutrition programs 
crafted by men and women who came here who understood what their job 
was and they understood what the power of this institution is.
  Unfortunately, we do not have those giants in this body on both sides 
of the aisle--the people who have left--and I am so proud of our 
Democrats who have stood together on this farm bill and said: No. This 
is wrong. We are not going to be complicit in leaving millions of 
people hungry in the United States.
  Robert Kennedy took a commission across this country and went and 
found children and babies who were hungry and came back, and, again, on 
a bipartisan basis, helped to craft the programs that we have today. 
These were men and women who understand and understood why they were 
elected to the United States House of Representatives and the United 
States Senate.

                              {time}  1730

  Unfortunately, so many of our colleagues on the other side of the 
aisle have either forgotten their purpose here or never understood 
their purpose here.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on something Ms. DeLauro 
said, which I think is very important.
  She pointed out that it was Senator Robert Dole, a Republican from 
Kansas; and Senator George McGovern, a Democrat from South Dakota, who 
came together and said: We have this extraordinary agricultural bounty 
and surplus in America.
  We could be feeding the entire world. Certainly we could be feeding 
the people of America. Most people are able to afford it, but not 
everybody, and not at every point in their life. We should make sure 
that, in the wealthiest society that has ever existed, everybody has 
the opportunity to eat three meals a day for $1.40.
  Ms. DeLauro said that we don't have the giants that we had then. I 
don't know if that is true. I consider the gentlewoman from Connecticut 
(Ms. DeLauro) a giant.
  But I think what has changed is the public philosophy that is 
governing in Washington. I think there is a public philosophy that 
survives in town, which says that government is a moneymaking 
opportunity for the President and a handful of people: the President's 
friends and the people who surround the President. People are actually 
making money coming into government.
  Whereas, the traditional ideal--the one I think Ms. DeLauro invoked 
with Senators Dole and McGovern and the new deal and Franklin 
Roosevelt--was government is an instrument of the common good to 
benefit everybody to advance the general will.
  What has happened to our concept of government in America?
  Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, I tracked in my research the Food Stamp 
program and child tax credits, bipartisan; equal pay for equal work, 
bipartisan; Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, when the votes 
came, they were done in a bipartisan way, the votes were bipartisan.

[[Page H3874]]

  Now we seem to have lost that sense that the challenges are there for 
us to take on, on both sides of the aisle, to put aside differences for 
that common good. That is what we need to get back to. That what we are 
not about is humiliating people and demeaning people so that we think 
that that will make them go out and try to work to do a better thing, 
to tell them that there is no hope for them when they look to 
Washington and to government.
  Mr. Speaker, that is a slap in the face to the years and the work 
that so many on both sides of the aisle did in Congress, and that is 
what we have to get back to. That is what should be entrusted to us, as 
we look at each of these areas that people face in our country.
  People want jobs. We define ourselves by our jobs. We get our self-
confidence from our jobs. People want to work. Your family looks up to 
you when you have a job. And, when you don't, you are embarrassed to 
tell your kids: I don't have a job.
  These great people who served said: We need to come together to work 
on these issues.
  For me, that is what I want us to get back to. That is what I try to 
work at, as you do, every single day. To have people understand that, 
in times of difficulty, we are accountable to one another, and we have 
a responsibility. We are not a society that said it is every man or 
woman for himself or herself, particularly in challenging times.
  That is what our social safety net is all about. It reflects the 
great values of this country. I believe we can get back there. I 
believe that we can. We were there before, and we are going to get back 
there again.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Raskin for what he is doing here tonight.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from Connecticut 
(Ms. DeLauro) for her leadership, for her vision, and for her writing. 
It is incisive and useful for us all.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from North Carolina (Ms. 
  Ms. ADAMS. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congressman Raskin for putting this 
Special Order hour together. I thank him for his commitment and for his 
  I join all of my colleagues in opposing what is being proposed in 
terms of this farm bill.
  Three weeks ago, my Republican colleagues on the House Agriculture 
Committee sat silently while Chairman Conaway introduced a partisan 
farm bill. Then they allowed him to preach about the many reasons why 
he feels that SNAP should be transformed from a feeding program to a 
work program, uninterrupted.
  Then they voted for this flawed bill that takes food off of the 
tables of veterans, seniors, and children. Now they want to pass it 
through the House and push it forward with their agenda to starve our 
Nation's most vulnerable.
  My Republican colleagues ought to be ashamed of this because Proverbs 
22:9 says: ``The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share 
their food with the poor.''
  I have said it once, and I will say it again: I don't believe that 
the Lord is pleased with what we are considering in this bill.
  In my home county of Mecklenburg, North Carolina, more than 162,000 
people are considered food insecure. Worse, 50,000 of those are 
  In my community, more than 55,000 families depend on SNAP to help put 
food on their tables. No one should wonder where their next meal will 
come from. But, sadly, this is a reality for many, many people.
  Last year, North Carolina Republicans introduced a bill on the State 
level that would have a similar impact to this partisan farm bill. 
Analysis of that bill shows that roughly 130,000 North Carolinians will 
lose their SNAP benefits if this bill passes, including 50,000 
  Nationwide, the impact of this bill would even be worse: kicking 2 
million people out of the program and causing an estimated 265,000 
children to lose free or reduced lunch at school. So, no work, no eat?
  If we are lawmakers and we aren't protecting our Nation's children, 
then I don't think we deserve to be here.
  Republicans continue to push the idea that we need entitlement reform 
just to appease the Speaker. Well, I understand the Speaker has 
announced his retirement, and I would like for us to just retire the 
idea that this so-called reform is just numbers on a page because it is 
not. Real people depend on SNAP programs and, without it, they will go 
hungry. No one can expect to work if they are hungry. No child can 
expect to learn if the child is hungry.
  More than $8 in $10 in nutrition assistance go to households that 
include a child, a senior, or a person with a disability. Additionally, 
many working Americans depend on SNAP to make ends meet in expensive 
cities where earning the minimum wage doesn't pay all of the bills. 
People work two and three jobs a day at minimum wage, leave work, and 
go to a food bank to eat.
  Additionally, many American families depend on SNAP. Working hard is 
not enough if you don't make enough.
  Instead of punishing working Americans, let's address the cause of 
the issue, and let's raise the minimum wage to a living wage.
  Mr. Speaker, I join my Democratic colleagues in urging Chairman 
Conaway to scrap this flawed bill and return it to the drawing board. 
We can, and we should, craft a bipartisan farm bill that benefits all 
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Ms. Adams so much for her insightful 
remarks. Before Ms. Adams leaves, I would like to ask her a question.
  Working in Washington and coming here several days a week, as Members 
of Congress do, we are often treated to the spectacle of lifestyles of 
the rich and famous and political corruption. We see Scott Pruitt, the 
EPA chief, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on first-class air 
travel with a security detail of a dozen people, something nobody has 
ever seen before for an EPA chief. He built, I think it was, a $40,000 
soundproof booth in his office in order to make secret phone calls.
  Last night, we saw on TV, or pick up the paper this morning to read 
about, millions of dollars flowing into an up-till-now secret bank 
account that Michael Cohen had. Part of it was used as a slush fund to 
pay off a porn star, who had a relationship, allegedly, with President 
Trump. But then hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing in from one of 
the oligarchs in Russia with U.S. corporations involved.
  There is a lot of money in this town. The power elite seems to have a 
lot of money, and gave hundreds of billions of dollars back to the 
wealthiest corporations and people in the country in the most recent 
tax legislation. Yet they get through with that, and then they turn and 
they want to pound the SNAP program, which is used to give a modicum of 
dignity and security to the poorest people in the country so that they 
can feed their families.
  What is going on here?
  How is it possible that we can see one kind of America operating in 
the Halls of power with the wealthiest people in the country, and 
another for the working people of the country who are trying to get by?
  Ms. ADAMS. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Raskin is so absolutely right. I think 
that is why people have generally lost faith in their government.
  I mentioned a Scripture from the Bible, but there are 3,000 
references--more than 3,000--that speak to how we should treat the 
poor. We are, I think, being derelict in terms of our duties. Yes, 
there seems to be a lot of corruption going on. We are not placing our 
priorities on the people. We are putting profits over people. That is 
so unfortunate because we were elected to serve everyone, including the 
  The poor will be with us always. We have a responsibility to reach 
out and to give a helping hand, a help up. We are not talking about 
people who some folks think are lazy and they are not working. They are 
working, and they are the caregivers of the children.
  Children live in poverty because their parents do. We must ensure 
that we can help those adults who help our children. We want our 
children to go to school and we want them to do well. Children will not 
do well if their stomach growls because they are hungry.
  Mr. Speaker, I think Mr. Raskin is right. We have two worlds here: 
the haves and the have-nots. It is time to give something to those who 
have not.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, three-quarters of SNAP benefits go to 
families: households with children in them. That should be what people 
think of when they think of the SNAP program.

[[Page H3875]]

  We heard a lot today in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee 
hearing that was referenced earlier, basically about lazy people 
sitting around. I tried to alter the image a little bit. I said: You 
can have lazy people who get a paycheck in public housing and 
they spend all day watching TV, tweeting, and filing for bankruptcy. 
You have lazy people in the middle class. You have rich lazy people and 
you have poor lazy people.

  Ms. ADAMS. Mr. Speaker, there are probably some lazy folks in here, 
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, we are not going to be able to eliminate 
laziness, but maybe we can take care of hunger in America so that kids 
don't go to sleep without food.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Ms. Adams for her leadership and her 
strong voice on these issues. It is very impressive to see how hard she 
has been fighting.
  Ms. ADAMS. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Raskin for those comments.
  One of the reasons that I wanted to serve on the Agriculture 
Committee was because of the issues that are impacted not only in my 
district but throughout this Nation. Having so many people who are food 
insecure gave us an opportunity, I think, to do good in this farm bill. 
It is my understanding that we have never had a bill that was not 
bipartisan, and I think we need to think about that. The citizens of 
this country are looking to us to do what is right because it is the 
right thing to do.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, in my district, I have urban, suburban, and 
rural. I have urban places like Rockville, Maryland; I have suburban 
places like Bethesda and Silver Spring; I have rural places in 
Frederick County like Middletown and Carroll County. I have sort of the 
full gamut of America in my district, and there is poverty in all of 
them. There are people struggling in all of them, just like there are 
people who have become very prosperous in all of them.
  But our job, I think, as Representatives in Congress, is to keep the 
country unified and see what that beautiful, magical phrase in the 
beginning of the Constitution ``We the people'' means. For us to stand 
together in all of our magnificent diversity of ways of life and 
different kinds of communities that we have across the country, what is 
it that binds us together?
  I think the goodness of the American people is that we are invested 
in the success of everybody, not just this or that group, not just our 
business buddies, not just our partners, not just people in our 
political party, but we are invested in the success of everyone, and 
that is our job.
  Ms. ADAMS. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Raskin is exactly right. Hunger is not a 
partisan issue.

                              {time}  1745

  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Ms. Adams for participating.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee), 
my distinguished colleague.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I am delighted, if I might say, to be 
with Professor Raskin today, and I would like to use that terminology, 
or Congressman Raskin, but it means that he gets into both the theory, 
the practice, and the passion of an idea. That is what teachers do. 
They try to instruct their students to look at the holistic concept of 
a theory.
  Mr. Speaker, the loss of food stamps is not a theory, but it has 
passion in the loss of such. It has a broad landscape of impact. It 
certainly has a theory of which I don't adhere to, and that is that 
Americans who have asked for a hand up are the ones deserving of the 
brunt of an enormous tax cut that has created an enormous deficit that 
was not asked for by the top 1 percent, who are getting the major 
aspect, or major benefit, of this tax cut.
  As a member of the Budget Committee, we took pains, the Democrats, to 
parse through the ultimate negative impact of the $1.4 trillion-plus 
tax cut.
  During the Obama administration, we discussed a corporate rate 
reduction. Many of us would have considered that on the idea of job 
creation, coming from the early thirties, if you will, down to about 
the mid-twenties. We did more than--when I say ``we,'' this bill did 
21, unasked for by any corporate entity, which added, again, insult to 
injury as it relates to those families, disabled, and seniors, children 
who are dependent upon these programs.
  We have many Americans who are dependent upon means-tested programs, 
70 percent. The supplemental nutrition program, unlike the 21 percent 
corporate rate reduction for taxes, is $1.40 per person.
  One of our colleagues in the other body, Senator Booker, as we all 
know who are familiar with him, and I think maybe we should join in 
that effort, spend that much per meal, all of the Members of the House 
of Representatives, because what we are dealing with today is the farm 
  The farm bill takes to shutting down the SNAP program and to cutting 
it drastically, and to ignore and underfund important programs because 
we find ourselves in a predicament of the deficit, the tax cut, and 
what choices do we make.
  The decision to limit SNAP is not limited to red States or blue 
States. Eighty-five of the top 100 counties of individuals receiving 
SNAP benefits are rural communities, and many of them are, in fact, 
Republican represented.
  The disastrous changes to SNAP would jeopardize the food security of 
42 million people, including 30 million children, 4.8 million low-
income seniors, and 1.5 million low-income military veterans.
  So in conclusion, I came to the floor today to ask the question: Why 
in the farm bill?
  There is something about having a little seniority in this House. I 
can remember that of all the bills in this Nation that came out of this 
House and Senate--and I might say, joyfully, because I have been 
supported by the Farm Bureau. I come from a State of ranchers and 
farmers. We used to take pride in having that nexus between farmers and 
the SNAP program and the continuity of such.
  So here we are. We have breached it. We have blown it up for no 
reason other than to pocket the money for the tax cut.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for bringing us together. I ask my 
colleagues to vote against the farm bill, because that would be 
standing up for maybe a better pathway of that bipartisan farm bill 
that we have had over the decades to make a difference in the lives of 
all Americans.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Ms. Jackson Lee for her really 
profound and important remarks tonight.
  Mr. Speaker, I would close out our session here by just making an 
observation about the importance of this SNAP question.
  It is important legislatively because our friends across the aisle 
have broken from a bipartisan tradition going back a very long time now 
in the passage of the farm bill just to make it a partisan power grab 
and a push over everybody else in the body, but it also goes to the 
question: What kind of government are we going to have? Will this be 
government for the few or will it be a government for everyone?
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.