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Fudge Lashes Out At Republican Colleagues During Poverty Discussion; Gingrich Urges Bipartisanship

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 8:47 PM

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Rep. Marcia Fudge at 2012 Labor Day Festival in Cleveland

Cleveland Democratic Congresswoman Marcia Fudge delivered some scathing criticism last week of Republican members of the House that included some name calling. She made her comments during a panel discussion on poverty hosted by activist Tavis Smiley. The exchange led to an agreement by Fudge and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich to arrange an across-the-aisle summit of sorts. ideastream’s Bill Rice reports.

Fudge criticized Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee for voting to strip $16.5 billion over ten years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP – most people know it as food stamps.  The cut would have occurred under a new farm bill that was being considered last fall.  Congress ultimately extended the provisions of the last farm bill, including current SNAP funding, through next September, but Fudge is still upset about that Ag committee vote. 

Fudge:  “We have people who actually, literally work in the House of Representative who do not believe that there is poverty in this country.”

Fudge called those people crazy, and said if they or others that share their view keep getting elected to Congress,then America isn’t going anywhere as a country. 

Fudge:  “Because we deal with nuts every single day.  These people are evil and mean.  They care nothing about anybody but themselves.  And so if you think we’re going to have something bipartisan you need to think again.  It’s not happening.”

A short time later in the program Newt Gingrich responded, taking a decidedly more diplomatic tack.  He said he was impressed with the intensity of her comments – those are his words – and proposed a way for Fudge and her Republican colleagues to seek more common ground.  Each member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which Fudge chairs, would pair up with a Republican colleague, and then exchange 3-day visits to one another’s district. 

Gingrich:  Those six days will lead to a conversation that will both help us move back toward a little bit of healthy bipartisanship, and help each side have a slightly different understand, and maybe start to create some friendships from which we could actually begin to rebuild the ability to govern this country. 

Fudge:  “If you can make it work, I’m in.”

The 2 ½ hour discussion was broadcast live on C-SPAN, and will be rebroadcast 3 times on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  It remains to be seen whether Gingrich’s proposal will actually go forward. 

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