Levin's Statement on the WIC Mini-CR

Oct 5, 2013

Madam Chairwoman:

Let’s be clear about what’s happening here. We are in day-four of the shutdown of the federal government for one reason, and one reason alone: The desire of a radical wing of the Republican Party to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

To that end, House Republicans have rejected the clean government funding bill passed by the Senate, and shut down the government.  The shutdown could end today if Speaker Boehner would bring up the Senate-passed funding bill.  There are more than enough votes to pass it and send the bill to the President, who would sign it.  The only reason we aren’t voting on the Senate bill is because Speaker Boehner has not stood up to a radical group of Tea Party lawmakers who are demanding repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Instead of re-opening the entire government, the Republican Leadership is playing more games as they continue to bring up piecemeal bills to fund the most visible casualties of the shutdown they caused.  Earlier this week, we had a vote to reopen the Smithsonian and the National Parks.  Then we had a vote to reopen the National Institutes of Health.  Then the Republicans began to feel the heat from veterans, so they brought up a bill to reopen the VA.  These Band aid bills are an attempt by Republicans to give themselves political cover for causing this shutdown in the first place.

Today we have another Band aid bill before us.  This bill would restart funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children through December 15.  Nearly 9 million moms and kids under five living near or below the poverty line rely on WIC for healthy food, breastfeeding support, infant formula and other necessities.  It’s as if Republicans have just figured out that closing down the federal government has health consequences when mothers cannot provide food and nutrition for their kids. 

Let me read a statement from the National WIC Association, which urges the House to reject the bill before the House.  They call this Republican bill “a cynical ploy to use low-income nutritionally at-risk mothers and young children as political pawns for political ends.  Funding the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in this piecemeal, short-term, stop-gap manner is not an acceptable solution....  NWA urges Congress to end the uncertainty that exists in our fiscal environment and the already challenged lives of vulnerable mothers and young children by responsibly discharging and fulfilling its moral obligations to the nation.  NWA will not tolerate efforts to leverage the nutritional health and well-being of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, their babies, and young children to satisfy the political ends or strategies of policy-makers.” 

It’s time to stop playing politics, and have a vote on the Senate’s clean funding bill.  It’s time to end the shutdown.