I mean, I love azaleas, but really…..
If you’re an azalea at the National Arboretum, you’re in luck — a Republican on the House Appropriations Committee is looking out for you. If you’re a woman, infant or child, however, you’re on your own.
Slipped into the FY 2012 agriculture appropriations bill that the House is expected to take up today is an unusual provision on page 13 requiring the National Arboretum to maintain a very specific portion of its azalea collection.
“The Committee directs the National Arboretum to maintain its National Boxwood Collection and the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection,” reads the bill. “The Committee encourages the National Arboretum to work collaboratively with supporters of the National Arboretum to raise additional funds to ensure the long-term viability of these and other important collections.”
While azaleas are being carefully tended to, the bill would cut $832 million from a program that provides food assistance to low-income mothers and children. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the reduction could result in as many as 475,000 people being turned away from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) if food prices continue to rise.
“Everyday people across the country leave their homes in search of work, only to return at the end of the day with more worries and less hope,” said Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), the agriculture subcommittee’s ranking member. “At a time that people continue to struggle to make ends meet, Republicans want to cut funding to food programs that are helping put food on the tables of those most in need.”
“Governing is about choices. It is clear where the House majority’s priorities lie — and it is not with those of the American people,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a strong WIC advocate, in a statement. “These cuts are unconscionable and will not only hurt families trying to survive, but also hurt our economy.”
“We understand that we have an obligation to get our fiscal house in order,” added Farr. “And Democrats are ready to work with our friends across the isle to make that happen, but not by discriminately targeting those most in need.”
Azalea upkeep isn’t the only unusual measure in the bill: