This was a vote on passage of H.R. 2997 providing fiscal 2010 year funds for the Department of Agriculture, rural development, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and related agencies. The bill provided almost $23 billion in funding, which represented an $11billion increase over corresponding 2009 levels. Most of that increase went toward the Women, Infants and Children food program, the FDA, and International Food Aid. The bill also included a total reduction of more than $735 million from certain 2009 spending categories.
Rep. DeLauro (D-CT), the chair of the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 2997, led the support for the measure. She said that “the bill focuses on several key areas, such as: Protecting public health; bolstering food nutrition programs; investing in rural communities; supporting agriculture research; strengthening animal health and marketing programs; and conserving our natural resources.” DeLauro claimed that: “(T)o protect the public health, the bill provides a substantial increase for the Food and Drug Administration . . . That is to hire additional inspectors, conduct more inspections of domestic and foreign food and medical products . . . This is not only a matter of public health and consumer safety, it is a matter of national and economic security.”
DeLauro argued that these increases came “after years of underinvestment (by the second Bush Administration) in the Federal Government's capabilities, in protecting public health, supporting American agriculture, strengthening rural communities, and conserving the environment.” She focused particularly on the FDA, which she claimed “has been underfunded for far too long”, and on the Women, Infants, and Children program, which she said is “a program that we simply cannot afford to underfund any longer, particularly given the gravity of the current economic climate.” DeLauro summarized the goals of the bill by saying it was Congress’ “fundamental responsibility as legislators and as leaders, to say nothing of basic morality and fairness, (to) demand that we do everything we can to help Americans suffering right now from poverty and malnutrition.”
Rep. Kingston, the Ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 2997, said that, although he “certainly supports many parts of this bill”, he had to opposed it. Kingston’s opposition was based in part on his claim that it did not have sufficient spending reductions, and in part on his idea that it “grows the bureaucracy (but) doesn't always get something done better or faster.” Kingston argued that “we spend a lot of time talking about increase in spending, but we don't talk about efficiency and effectiveness. The purpose of Congress really shouldn't be just to spend more money on an authorized program. We should make sure that the programs are effective, they're efficient, and are doing their intended purpose.” He added that this type of bill should do more “to help encourage people to be more independent so they do not have to depend on the U.S. Congress year after year.”
Kingston added that “as a Republican, one reason why we are in the minority is because we spent too much money. Republicans had a brand identity of being fiscal conservatives, and unfortunately we threw that away . . . (and now), particularly with this (Obama) administration, spending seems to be on supercharge . . . .”
The vote was 266-160. Two hundred and thirty-nine Democrats and twenty-seven Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred and fifty Republicans and ten Democrats voted “nay” As a result, the fiscal year 2010 Agriculture-FDA funding bill passed and was sent onto the Senate.