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Honors Cosponsor Senator Kirk in Senate Floor Speech

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor today about the importance of bipartisanship and the need to eliminate unnecessary government programs.

Shaheen discussed the bipartisan SUGAR Act, which would phase out the sugar support program and save consumers billions of dollars, and she honored the bill’s cosponsor Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), who is currently recovering from a stroke.

Below are Senator Shaheen’s remarks, as prepared for delivery. Video is available, upon request.

Mr. President,

Millions of Americans are buying flowers and candy for their loved ones to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  It’s an important day for American businesses, especially candy manufacturers.  Consumers will purchase over 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate for Valentine’s Day.

Unfortunately, the price that American candy manufacturers must pay for sugar leaves a bitter taste in their mouths.  These companies face artificially high prices for sugar – about twice the world average.  That’s thanks to an outdated and unnecessary government program that keeps sugar prices significantly higher than they should be.

Programs like these represent people’s frustration with what’s going on in Washington.  The sugar program protects special interests at the expense of regular businesses and consumers.

That’s why I joined with Senator Mark Kirk on Valentine’s Day last year to encourage our colleagues to join us in supporting our bipartisan SUGAR Act.  The SUGAR Act would phase out the U.S. sugar program, which costs businesses and consumers approximately $4 billion a year.

This legislation isn’t about “Democrat” or “Republican.”  It’s about ending a raw deal for businesses and consumers.

Senator Kirk and I sponsored this legislation because we need to end the sweetheart deal for the sugar industry.  There’s simply no reason to continue a program that makes candy makers, bakers, and other food manufacturers in our states pay double the world average price for sugar.

The sugar program also costs jobs.  For every one job that we save in the sugar industry through this program, we’re losing three manufacturing jobs.

Today, my thoughts are with Senator Kirk as he continues his recovery.  While Senator Kirk cannot be here on this Valentine’s Day, I wish him well and look forward to his return.

I know that he is focused on getting better so that he will be able to get back to working for his constituents in Illinois. 

It has been my pleasure to work with Senator Kirk on this bipartisan legislation.  I look forward to our continued work in the future, on the SUGAR Act and on other matters, to help our constituents in New Hampshire and Illinois.

Thank you, Mr. President.