House Republicans narrowly passed a bill that makes significant cuts across the Department of Agriculture and related agencies that is being chided by Democrats for making steep cuts to food safety and child nutrition programs.
The measure narrowly passed on a vote of 217-203 Thursday, with 19 Republicans joining all House Democrats voting against the legislation, which makes a 21 percent cut to the FDA’s budget totaling $572 million below the president’s request -- including $285 million or 12 percent just this year.
Democrats, including Rep. John Dingell – the Dean of the House – slammed Republicans for voting for the bill, charging that these deep cuts are “indefensible” and will severely undermine food safety efforts and increase the risk of food-borne illnesses.
“At a time when 30 people have been grossly sickened and died in Germany and 3,000 have been sickened, we are cutting Food and Drug's enforcement budget,” Dingell, D-Mich., said on the floor Wednesday. “Every year in the United States, 3,000 Americans are killed with bad food, 128,000 are hospitalized, 48 million are made sick. We have imported food that is causing all manner of difficulty: bad peanuts with salmonella, bad mushrooms, E. coli in peppers, melamine in dairy products, salmonella in eggs, bad shellfish and fish from China.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that the bill also makes “foolish cuts” to nutrition programs for some of the most vulnerable Americans, including women, infants and children, or WIC, by about 10 percent – slashing $650 million from the program, decreasing funding levels from $6.73 billion this year to $6.05 billion.
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