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Republican Agenda

The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Fudge) for 5 minutes.

Rep. Marcia L. Fudge

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, after a year of attempts to eliminate Medicare and obstruct any kind of jobs bill, the Republican agenda is clear: eliminate the deficit at any cost, including at the expense of our most vulnerable, while adversely impacting our economic recovery.

More than 1.6 million American children were homeless at some point in 2010. These are children under the age of 18 living in emergency shelters or in shared housing, and many are living on the street. Now, in 2011, the number of homeless children continues to increase. There are more homeless children today than after the natural disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The recession's economic devastation has left 1 in 45 children homeless, millions of Americans are out of work, and we have pushed unemployment rates to levels not seen in decades.

We continue to see poverty soar. In 2010, nearly one in six Americans was living in poverty. As poverty surged to its highest level since 1993, median household incomes declined, which is why it is maddening to me that we in Congress can't agree or even come to a point where we can agree to compromise on policies that will help struggling Americans.

In the 49 weeks since the Republicans took control of this House they have failed to pass a single bill to encourage job growth. They pledged to focus on economic recovery, but they have failed to deliver. I have sponsored four jobs bills in the last 6 months, but none of them has been brought up for a vote. What the majority has done is try to advance their own political agenda. Their priority is clear: eliminate the deficit at any cost on the backs of the most vulnerable.

This year, Republicans proposed a budget that would privatize Medicare and make Medicaid a block grant, sacrificing care for our seniors, our sick, and our poor. The Republican budget slashed more than $6 trillion--with a ``t''--over the next decade from Medicaid, SNAP, Medicare, and many other programs supporting low- and middle-income Americans. The majority suggests these drastic changes while leaving in place tax cuts for the wealthiest and $40 billion in Big Oil tax loopholes.

The majority's budget would devastate poor communities and middle class Americans. It pushes seniors into the hands of private insurance companies and forces them to pay more out-of-pocket expenses. What we need is a bold approach, Mr. Speaker, to maintaining these programs rather than finding ways to defund or derail them.

Almost 6 million workers have been unemployed for a year or more in this country, so we know there is a strong need to extend unemployment insurance. What we've seen this week makes me skeptical. Here we are at the end of one of the most unproductive congressional sessions we've had in recent history. In this end of the year drama, Republicans play the role of the Grinch who stole Christmas.

Yesterday, the House passed a bill that slashes unemployment insurance by 40 weeks in the States that are hardest hit, including my own home State of Ohio. If signed into law, beneficiaries without a high school degree would be denied insurance unless they use the benefits we're giving them to pay for getting their GED. The bill also allows States to force recipients to take drug tests.

In 2010, unemployment benefits kept 3.2 million Americans--including nearly 1 million children--from falling into poverty. I don't even want to imagine the magnitude of the problem if we fail to extend unemployment insurance now.

During this holiday season more than ever, Americans feel there is no way out. Last week, a woman in Texas, who was originally from the State of Ohio, killed herself and shot her two children because they were denied SNAP benefits. One of those children has died. Mr. Speaker, this is desperation, homelessness at its worst.