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Rep. Yvette Clarke’s Opposition Statement on the Passage of the Agriculture Appropriations Act of 2012 and Cuts to the WIC Program

Washington, DC- Today, with a vote of 217 to 203, the House of Representative passed H.R. 2112, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012.  Congresswoman Yvette Clarke released the following statement opposing the legislation:

“I voted against H.R. 2112, the Agriculture, Appropriations  bill because of the drastic cuts to critical nutrition programs that assist so many in need.  The Women Infant and Children (WIC) program is an essential program that offers nutrition education, breastfeeding support, referrals and a variety of nutritious foods to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding or postpartum women, infants and children up to age five.  The program is administered through county health departments, hospitals, mobile clinics, community centers, schools, public housing sites, migrant health centers and camps, and Indian Health Service facilities.

“In New York State, the WIC Program provides services to nearly one half million low-income women, infants, and children through 103 local WIC agencies statewide.  Local agencies such as Brooklyn’s Healthy Start, has provided WIC services to low income women in my district for more than twenty years.  It is because of the work of Brooklyn Healthy Start and other WIC programs that this county’s already shamefully high infant mortality is not higher.  Decreasing funding to WIC programs will undoubtedly increase my district’s infant mortality rate. 

“Given the spike in demand for WIC and other nutrition programs like, SNAP/Food Stamps, school meals, summer, afterschool, and child care food programs, it is unconscionable that the Republican-led Congress is choosing to seek cuts to critical programs that help seniors, children, and low income people who aspire to our nations middle class.  For this reason, I cannot support this legislation.

“First, Republicans went after our nation’s seniors who rely on Medicare and now they’re going after children and mother’s who rely on our social compact for food assistance.  If we got rid of tax breaks for multi-millionaires and billionaires for just one week, we would pay for the entire WIC program for a year. 

“It is my belief that cuts to the WIC program is based on ideological/political rationale and not an honest desire to cut deficits.  This Agriculture Appropriations bill continues to protect tax cuts for multi-millionaires while having poor sticking mothers and their children pay a dear price.

“WIC has been shown to improve the health of pregnant women, new mothers and their infants and children.  The foods provided through WIC are a good source of essential nutrients that are often missing from the diets of women and young children.  WIC participants have longer, healthier pregnancies and fewer premature births.

“We all understand the need to reduce the deficit but we must do so in a way that is consistent with our shared values.  It is a moral imperative that we look after those who are often forgotten or marginalized in our society.  Republicans should not destroy programs upon which citizens depend on the most, in exchange to pay for $45 billion in tax breaks for millionaires.”