The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

May 16, 2008

Rockefeller blasts Bush on threatened farm bill veto

All but 16 percent of the farm bill approved by the Senate is aimed at putting more money into food stamps and other nutritional programs sorely needed by struggling West Virginia families, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., says.

Yet, President Bush has vowed to veto the measure on grounds that it amounts to a massive giveaway to farmers, the senator said.

“That’s just absolutely wrong, especially when rising gas prices are causing far too many West Virginia families to stretch their weekly paychecks even more,” the senator said.

Rockefeller said the food stamp program is the most effective entitlement by helping low-income families with nutritional needs.

A year ago, some 269,000 residents of West Virginia took advantage of the program each month, and half who benefited were children, he said.

West Virginia took in $274 million in the program and each recipient pocketed an average benefit of $82.95 each month.

“This infusion of federal funding for increased food stamp benefits and area food banks couldn’t have come at a better time,” Rockefeller said.

“Everybody, especially children and seniors, deserves to have healthy and nutritious meals three times a day. That’s why parents need to be able to afford milk for their children and seniors shouldn’t have to choose between buying life-saving medicine or filling their pantry.”

Meantime, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, also D-W.Va., assailed Bush for asking for an extra $178 billion to maintain the war in Iraq while the domestic economy is on shaky ground. By the end of the year, he said, the conflict will have cost American taxpayers more than $600 billion.

At the same time, he said, the president has failed to ask for any funding to help flood victims, particularly in Louisiana, where post-Katrina violent crime has risen 53 percent.

Within the past 18 months, Bush has designated 59 disasters for floods in 32 states but isn’t asking for more money to repair levees or undertake any investments to avert future flooding, he said.

“Yet, the president has already thrown down the gauntlet by threatening to veto the supplemental bill if the Congress has the temerity to add one dime above his request in order to help our citizens here at home,” Byrd said.

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