Attempting to cut the WIC program and overseas food programs are inexcusable and we are very glad to hear that some Republicans feel the same and are standing for what is right and ethical. We commend them for standing against the party on this one and drawing a line.

Paul Broun’s (left) proposed cuts resulted in a sharp exchange with Norm Dicks. | AP Photos

Already on the defensive, scores of House Republicans joined with Democrats on Wednesday to beat back repeated conservative attempts to make still deeper cuts from nutrition programs and food aid overseas.

The resulting margins approached 3-1, and the underlying $17.25 billion agriculture bill has clearly touched a deeper nerve than its Republican managers had expected.

The combined cuts from Food for Peace and the WIC nutrition program for women, infants and children already total over $1.14 billion and triggered an emotional outburst from members of the House Black Caucus when the measure first hit the House floor Tuesday. This was followed Wednesday by a sharp, personal exchange between Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Norm Dicks (D-Wash.).

Broun, a trained physician, had proposed to cut another 10 percent from WIC and then followed with an amendment to cut $940 million from Food for Peace— virtually wiping out the program. The typically affable Dicks was suddenly on his feet, accusing the Republican of endangering the health of children overseas and violating his Hippocratic Oath “to do no harm.”

“I resent the fact that you accuse me of wanting to do harm,” Broun responded, clearly upset. The back-and-forth continued briefly but Dicks promised to alter his words in the Record so to appear less personal.

The emotions weren’t lost on the GOP itself.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), the bill’s manager, appears more determined to protect at least the reduced funds allocated for nutrition and food aid in his bill. And to show his commitment, Kingston helped engineer an amendment Wednesday evening that would impose a modest across-the-board cut elsewhere in the bill so as to shield the WIC funding level.

In earlier floor votes, Republicans split down the middle on an unsuccessful amendment by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C) to cut $82.5 million more from WIC. Broun was trounced, 360-64, on his 10 percent WIC cut, which garnered only 63 GOP allies. And the deeper cut from Food for Peace lost by a 3-1 margin with Republicans split 139-98 against Broun’s position.

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