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Washington Review May 17, 2013

May 17, 2013
Washington Review

Last week was a difficult week in Washington. On Thursday, House Republicans voted, for the 37th time, to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

This health care law has been passed by Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court. It's been the law for more than three years. Congress should be focused on creating jobs and growing the economy.

The ACA has already benefited millions of Americans including 13 million citizens who received $1.1 billion in rebates from health insurance companies last summer; 6.3 million seniors who have saved $6.1 billion on their prescription drugs; and 6.6 million young adults who were able to obtain health insurance through their parents plan.

I was also disappointed to learn what was included in the 2013 Farm Bill that passed in the Committee on Agriculture last week. Stripping benefits from Americans who need it the most accomplishes little.  While the Farm Bill has always been an important vehicle to assist our nation’s farmers and food supplies, this version contained drastic cuts to funding for food stamps. Food stamps are critical to the health and well-being of our nation’s most vulnerable populations.  In our home state of New Jersey, nearly 870,000 households rely on this benefit to feed their families.  Of that number, 45 percent are children and nearly 25 percent are either elderly or disabled adults.

As it stands, food stamp benefits average less than $1.50 per-person for each meal. Every one of us knows how difficult it would be to feed our own children or aging parents a nutritious meal for that amount of money.  The farm bill would slash federal spending for food stamps by more than $21 billion over the next decade, eliminating food assistance to nearly 2 million people.  I understand the need to bring our budget under control, but we do not need to balance the budget on the backs of our children and seniors. The challenges facing our nation are too important to be done hastily or carelessly. The solutions we seek to our problems must me approached with thoughtfulness, and with the well-being of all Americans in mind. 

I’m honored to represent you, and I’ll continue to focus on the issues that bring us together, not the political rhetoric or partisan games that are used to divide us. We need to mend our broken economy, reduce the burdens on working families, and small businesses, and ensure that we do not balance the budget at the expense of our most vulnerable populations.