Chairman McGovern Opens First Rules Committee Hearing Examining How to End Hunger in America
Pushes for a White House hunger conference, calls on Congress and the Biden administration to equitably end food insecurity
WASHINGTON, DC — Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) today opened the first Rules Committee hearing in a series of events examining how to end hunger in America. The hearing, Ending Hunger in America: Challenges, Opportunities, and Building the Political Will to Succeed, looks at the steps that Congress and the Biden administration could take to equitably end food insecurity. Chairman McGovern is calling for a substantive, policy-focused White House hunger conference to create the roadmap to end hunger by 2030, which the United Nations has called for. He is also asking Americans to share their experiences, research, and possible solutions to help guide the committee in this work.
Highlights from Chairman McGovern’s opening remarks are below, video of his full remarks is available here:
- The Rules Committee will come to order. This is an important day for the cause of ending hunger in this country – and it’s personal for me.
- My first involvement in the movement to end food insecurity began back when I was a student interning for Senator George McGovern, no relation. He was a chair of the Special Select Committee on Hunger and Nutrition. I watched him champion these issues in a bipartisan way, along with leaders like Senator Bob Dole. He saw the face of hunger in the United States – and didn’t look away. He did something about it. That always stuck with me. And I promised myself that I would never look away, either.
- Every person who stopped me on the street, every mother who visited my office to tell me about their struggle to put food on the table has stuck with me. I have seen how hunger makes it harder to learn, harder to grow, harder to work, and harder to take care of our kids. For all the good the government does today, it is clearly not enough. In fact, the progress that Senator McGovern and others fought so hard for has been heading in the wrong direction. And as chairman of this committee, I am going to do something about it.
- More than forty million Americans are at risk of food insecurity because of COVID-19. And thirty-five million Americans were already dealing with food insecurity before it hit. Think about that. The United States is the richest country on the face of the earth. That anybody – anybody – goes without food is unconscionable.
- We have everything we need to eradicate hunger in the United States. We have the brainpower. We have the food. And yes, we have the money. It is a hell of a lot cheaper to solve this crisis than it is to let someone go hungry, get sick, and end up in a hospital needing additional care, or for seniors to take their pills on an empty stomach and end up in an Emergency Room. For too long, we have lacked only one thing: the political will. Today, we begin to change that. And we start building what I hope will become a roadmap to end hunger in America.
- The challenge before us is great. But I believe this goal is in our grasp if we’re willing to fight for it. I get it. The programs that address hunger don’t fall under one umbrella. They are scattered throughout many programs and across many different agencies. And even here in Congress, we can get a little territorial, which prevents us from working together as well as maybe we should sometimes. That’s why this committee is perhaps best positioned to take this on.
- This committee is going to do its homework. We are going to hold hearings, roundtables, and site visits as COVID precautions allow. And we’re going to think holistically, and not focus just on one program or another. All to build a record that encourages not only Congress to act, but the administration too. Because we need another White House conference on hunger.
- I think we can still do big things in this country. To all the doubters, let me say this: There was a time when the sky was literally the limit. Then, Americans dreamed even bigger. We put a man on the moon – the same year of the first and only White House conference on hunger, by the way. We launched a cancer moonshot. NASA just recently flew a helicopter on to Mars, reaching a world away for the very first time. That’s the kind of thinking we need to build a nation that is hunger-free.
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