Congressman Jim McGovern

Representing the 2nd District of Massachussetts
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U.S. Rep. McGovern to GOP on new-found concern about hunger: "Where have you been?"

Oct 4, 2013
Press Release

I thank the Ranking Member for the time.

M. Speaker, here we are on day 4 of the Republican shutdown of the people’s government.

The other day after meeting with the President at the White House, Speaker Boehner said, “at some point, we’ve got to allow the process that our founders gave us to work out."

M. Speaker, I’ve studied the American history, too.  And what the Republican Leadership is doing with this rule is a million miles away from what the founders had in mind.

I am trying to find it comforting that Speaker Boehner has said privately that he wants to extend the debt ceiling.  But he also said that he didn’t want to shut down the government, and yet here we are.  And I don’t know what Senator Cruz is saying privately, which is important because he’s apparently calling the shots around here.

The rule before us today extends martial law rule until October 21st – they have decided they have the right to throw the rules and traditions of this House into the trash can for the next 2 ½ weeks. That’s 4 days after we default on our obligations. That should make all of us very very nervous. The rule also makes in order eleven separate bills, many of which were never considered on the House floor, under a closed process with no amendments.  I’ve been on and around the Rules Committee for quite a few years, M. Speaker, but I have never – ever – seen a rule like this.

I find it astounding that the Republicans have suddenly found religion on the need to go to conference on the budget.  Because for months and months and months they refused to appoint budget negotiators.

But suddenly, as the American people rise up in outrage over their tactics, and their poll numbers fall off a cliff, my Republican friends want to negotiate.  There’s a very easy way to get past this.  Bring up the short-term clean continuing resolution that has already passed the Senate and we will pass it with a bipartisan vote and end this unnecessary, harmful Republican shutdown.

And not only is this process awful, so are many of the bills made in order under this rule.  I want to talk about one in particular, the one that provides funding for WIC – the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.

After months of trying to cut $40 billion from the SNAP program, after months of demonizing poor people, after months of trying to slash food assistance programs across the board, Republicans would like us all to believe that they care about hunger in America.

Give me a break.  Where have you been? I would ask my Republican friends.  Where have you been?

Because of the sequester, we’ve already seen WIC clinics closed and participation in the program fall. That means that fewer and fewer low-income women and children are getting the help – the nutritious food – they need. This bill doesn’t fix that.

The National WIC Association urges the House to oppose HJ Res 75, calling it “a cynical ploy to use low-income nutritionally at-risk mothers and young children as political pawns for political ends.”

They are right, M. Speaker.  This is a cynical ploy.  Enough is enough.

I urge my colleagues to defeat this rule, pass the clean CR and let the American people get on with their lives.