14 June 2023- Today, Congressman David Trone (D-MD), member of the House Committee on Appropriations, released a statement condemning Republicans’ devastating funding cuts to rural communities and vulnerable Americans during the markup of the Committee’s Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee’s Fiscal Year 2024 funding bill:
“During the second day of mark-ups, it remains abundantly clear that extreme House Republicans are seeking retaliation for the bipartisan debt ceiling agreement by shortchanging America’s rural communities.
“We haven’t seen federal support for these families this low in nearly two decades. This legislation isn’t conservative, it’s cruel.
“This Republican-led effort will slash funding for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) cash value voucher, cutting benefits for over 31,000 Maryland mothers and children, and putting innocent lives at risk.
“This Republican-led effort will push our rural communities back decades by pulling federal support from struggling farmers and their families, and clean water grants – of which, Maryland received nearly $24 million in rural water grants alone.
“Additionally, studies show that families with broadband access can save thousands of dollars a year by comparing prices of goods online and that students with high-speed internet have a much higher GPA than those without. Not to mention increased access to health care and job opportunities. Despite these benefits to American families, Republicans want to cut the ReConnect program to expand access to affordable high-speed internet.
“This Republican-led effort will literally leave rural communities in the dark by reneging on $1 billion of funding for electric co-ops that serve 42 million people – including 92 percent of persistent poverty counties and over 21 million businesses, homes, schools, and farms. These cuts will raise energy costs for American families and businesses already struggling to make ends meet.”
“Politics Over People is on full display as Republicans cut vital Community Project Funding – a 50% cut for my district – which will leave firehouses and community centers in the lurch, like the Public Safety Training Center in Hagerstown, the Deep Creek Volunteer Fire Company in McHenry, the Good Will Fire Company No. 1 in Lonaconing, and the Oakland Community Center. It’s shameless and petty.
“I came to Congress to improve the lives of Marylanders. These cruel cuts by extreme Republicans will pull the rug out from under rural communities and leave families hungry. Who stands for that? These Republican-led bills answer that question in spades.”
For 2024, the bill provides funding of $17.8 billion – a level so low that it was last seen in 2007 – which is $8 billion below what was provided in 2023. The legislation:
- Slashes funding for rural electric co-ops. Co-ops serve 42 million people and cover 56 percent of the nation’s land mass. This includes serving 92 percent of persistent poverty counties and powering over 21 million businesses, homes, schools, and farms in 48 states. Cutting these programs could mean that up to a third of our hard-working, rural communities across America do not get to benefit from these programs that are critical to making energy more affordable, reliable, clean, and resilient.
- Strips 104,000 economically distressed direct and guaranteed farm loan borrowers from the assistance they are expecting. This means farmers who are in the process of applying for assistance to make up for pandemic losses will not receive payments.
- Raises energy costs for approximately 15,000 rural small businesses and agriculture producers by cutting funding from the Rural Energy for America Program.
- Reneges on investments in rural America such as loans to financially distressed farmers and funds for rural electric co-ops to help ratepayers.
- Reneges on critical nutrition assistance by including harmful changes to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) cash value voucher that cuts benefits for 5 million women, infants, and children enrolled.
- Underfunds critical direct loans for the purchase of homes in rural areas and water and waste grants, which help the poorest communities get safer water services.
- Reverses the FDA decision to allow mifepristone to be dispensed in certified pharmacies, instead of only in hospitals, clinics, and medical offices.