The Farm Bill (S. 954) was being worked by the Senate the last few weeks, in an effort to get a bill done and voted on before the recess. This bill looks much like last year’s bill (but adding some additional support for Southern crops such as rice, cotton and peanuts). As this bill came out of the Agricultural Committee, it had cut $4.5 BILLION from the food stamp program over the next 10 years. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand offered an amendment (#931) to restore those cuts:
Both Senator Coons and Senator Carper voted NO on this amendment — ensuring that the unemployed, the underemployed, the elderly and the young get to struggle even harder in an economy that these two have done remarkably little to help repair for these families. As you can see, they were not alone in this — 26 other Democrats also joined them. But there’s more!
Senator David Vitter offered — and Senate Democrats accepted — an amendment that would increase hardship and will likely have strongly racially discriminatory effects. [It] would bar from SNAP, for life, anyone who was ever convicted of one of a specified list of violent crimes at any time — even if they committed the crime decades ago in their youth and have served their sentence, paid their debt to society, and been a good citizen ever since…. The amendment would [also] mean lower SNAP benefits for their children and other family members. So, a young man who was convicted of a single crime at age 19 who then reforms and is now elderly, poor and raising grandchildren would be thrown off SNAP, and his grandchildren’s benefits would be cut…. Senator Vitter hawked his amendment as one to prevent murderers and rapists from getting food stamps. Democrats accepted it without trying to modify it to address its most ill-considered aspects.
Vitter’s Amendment was ADOPTED by Unanimous Consent. Meaning that both Senators Carper and Coons agreed to this.
We already know that both Carper and Coons voted against letting states make their own determinations as to the labeling of GMO foods.
So what is going on here? I have no idea, really, but I’m pretty mad about this. Senator Coons spent some time with the Delaware Anti-Hunger Coalition specifically committing to support for anti-hunger programs.
“It is hard for me to accept that there are some in Congress who don’t see this as a moral challenge for our country,” Senator Coons said. “Teachers know, parents know — all of us know — that a child who begins their school day hungry doesn’t focus on their lesson, doesn’t absorb what their supposed to learn, is much more likely to be a problem in the classroom, and is much less likely to be able to grow, achieve, and to dream big.”
And because of this vote, Senator Coons has helped a few more children to be less likely to be able to grow, achieve and to dream big. There is NOTHING balanced about a deficit reduction program that asks more of the folks who can least afford it than it asks of the corporate farmers who get to do their work certain that they’ll get paid by taxpayers. But Senator Carper was there too, promising to support efforts to reduce hunger (without comitting to SNAP), but this is what is attributed to Senator Coons:
“Thousands of Delawareans – men and women, many of whom work full time, as well as children – go to sleep at night unsure of where their next meal will come from,” said Coons. “That is a moral challenge we must meet and a wrong we must right. Even in these times of tight budgets and program cuts, our values demand that we put a circle of protection around the most vulnerable of our neighbors. I will keep fighting to protect SNAP and other nutrition programs that Delawareans depend on.”
Apparently the fight for a circle of protection around our most vulnerable neighbors was too much for Senator Coons.
Senator Coons was a signatory to a letter urging the restoration of funding for Second Chance Act grant programs — programs that help to fund prisoner re-entry efforts that reduce recidivism. Why would he vote to undermine the efforts of those released from prison to feed themselves and their families as they try to get back on their feet? Senator Carper doesn’t have much of a trail on re-entry services, except for when he was working with Joe Biden to get more law enforcement dollars to Delaware.
So what do we have? A Farm Bill that undercuts the people who most need the help while handwaving at any reform of the Farm subsidies programs — making certain that big agribusiness maintains access to taxpayer money (with little to nothing for family farmers) and crop insurance companies get a big payday. In other words — it is one more bit of bipartisan fraud on Americans, with Democrats enabling the GOP to get their agenda done. While any Democratic agenda — the one that feeds people — gets left on the floor.
Both of these Senators are routinely seen at Food Bank and other food support programs all over the state — if you see them there, ask them why they voted to cut Food Stamps. In the meantime, call their offices this week and ask specifically why they voted to increase hunger insecurity in Delaware.