WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today called on the Senate
to go on record against cutting food assistance to low-income Americans
in budget legislation set to go to a House-Senate conference committee.
House and Senate negotiators are currently working to reconcile
differences between House and Senate budget bills in hopes of sending a
final bill to the President before Christmas. While the Senate budget
bill did not include cuts to food assistance programs, House
Republicans included provisions in their version that would cut
eligibility for federal food assistance for over 250,000 individuals.
Most of the people who would lose eligibility are low-income families
with children and legal immigrants. House cuts to food assistance come
on the heels of an administration report finding the number of
Americans experiencing food insecurity has increased by seven million
HARKIN FIGHTS TO PROTECT NUTRITION ASSISTANCE FOR LOW-INCOME AMERICANS
“As more and more in the United States are struggling to meet their
families’ nutritional needs, it would be unconscionable for this
Congress to respond by cutting food aid to low-income Americans,”
Harkin said. “No American should live in the shadow of hunger at the
dawn of the 21st century. That Congress could mark the holidays by
actually taking steps to make this situation even worse would be
The Harkin measure, offered with Senator Gordon Smith (R-OH), instructs
House and Senate budget negotiators to reject cuts to food assistance
for low-income Americans. The Senate bill did not contain such cuts.
Congressional budget cuts are being considered at the same time that
both the House and Senate are considering extending tax cuts for the
country’s wealthiest. Despite descriptions of the budget process as
necessary to reduce the federal deficit, the cost of proposed tax cuts
exceeds budgetary savings being considered through cuts to spending
programs. As a result, the budget process underway is expected to
actually increase, rather than decrease, the federal deficit.
Harkin voted against the Senate resolution calling for cuts through the
federal budget and has repeatedly called for Congress to abandon
efforts to cut programs serving low and middle income Americans.