Editor's note: This story has been edited to reflect that Northeast is the proper name of a town in Pennsylvania.
Senator John Fetterman returned to Washington, D.C., and hosted a hearing on food assistance and availability that was highlighted by clips of him stumbling through his opening remarks.
Fetterman was recently discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after allegedly voluntarily admitting himself for clinical depression.
Upon his release, Fetterman posted a comedy sketch to social media joking about not having a body a double.
"Thought it was time to address the rumor: I do not have a body double," Fetterman joked.
On April 19, 2023, Fetterman chaired a Senate hearing on food assistance policy with the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Food & Nutrition, to address an upcoming farm bill reauthorization.
During the hearing, five witnesses spoke on their concerns regarding potential restrictions to the food assistance program, but it was Fetterman's opening statements that stole the show.
The official C-SPAN captions had trouble keeping up with the senator, but overall did a great job repairing what was an often incoherent reading.
"I call to this hearing of the U.S. Senate subcommittee and food and nutrition, [specialty] crops, organics, and research to order. Chairwoman [Stabenow] and ranking member Boozman. Thank you so much for coming. I thank you for your leadership on this committee," Fetterman began.
Fetterman struggled to say the words "poverty" and "office" and overwhelmingly struggled with cadence, inflection, and punctuation in his statements.
While he attempted to tell a story about a resident of Pennsylvania who relies on a food assistance program, Senator Fetterman was unable to articulate the person's name and described the person as being from "the north to the town of northeast in Pennsylvania."
"Hunger is not a Republican or a Democrat issue. It's all of our issue that we have to take it on. We need to come together and stop playing political games with Americans' access to food. Americans like [inaudible] from the north to the town of Northeast in Pennsylvania," Fetterman read.
The hearing, which lasted nearly two hours, also featured Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Cory Booker.
The Democrats largely took issue with the deal with Republicans to raise the national debt limit, through which they claimed the GOP will cut access to food assistance programs.
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