“Mr. Chairman, I have a district that relies on a strong Farm Bill. Illinois is a leading producer of soybeans, corn, and swine. Our economy relies on a Farm Bill that supports agriculture. Although we all eat, I realize there are many districts whose Members may not be as enthusiastic as I am about the Farm Bill. That is why there is something in this bill for every district.
“For those concerned about the deficit, I have good news. The last Farm Bill was the single largest cut in mandatory spending that we made in the entire 113th Congress. We built on these sound policy reforms in this bill.
“If you are a member who wants to address the cycle of poverty that too many of our constituents are trapped in, this bill is for you. H.R. 2 reforms the system and invests historic amounts in workforce training.
“Despite our growing economy, we have 9 million more people on SNAP today than we did at the height of the recession when jobs were scarce and unemployment was in the double digits. This isn’t progress. This isn’t helping to end the cycle of poverty.
“In my home State of Illinois, 67 percent of work-capable adults on SNAP are without work. A long recession left Americans disheartened, people dropping out of the labor force because they lost their job and, after months and months of searching, couldn’t find another one. H.R. 2 makes investments to give many of those same people hope in finding a job again.
“Four years ago, I was a freshman, and the Farm Bill was my first opportunity to be part of a conference committee and see firsthand our democracy at work, Democrats and Republicans sparring over policy differences. But at least there was a debate.
“I am incredibly disappointed by my friends on the other side of the aisle who didn’t offer any amendments in committee. Work requirements are not new. They were done in 1996 by a Republican-led Congress and Democratic President during a similar time of economic growth.
“When do the politics end and the serious policy discussions begin? Let’s put politics aside, pass this important bill for our farmers, for our taxpayers, and for too many Americans trapped in poverty. Let’s show the American people we can govern together.”