A draft of the FY 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which sets funding for WIC, was passed earlier today by a unanimous vote (31-0) in the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS).
The bill calls for a funding level of $6.35 billion for WIC including $80 million for breastfeeding peer counselors and $13.6 million for infrastructure. The appropriations bill requests a rescission of $800 million of unspent funds from WIC. This would leave WIC with a net funding level of $5.55 billion in FY 2018. While the House Agriculture Appropriations bill called for a lower topline funding number ($6.15 billion), because it included a lower rescission number ($600 million), the net funding levels for WIC in both the Senate and House bills are the same. We expect that this funding level will be sufficient to meet projected caseload needs in FY 2018.
A significant advocacy success for NWA is the Senate Committee’s decision to fund WIC breastfeeding peer counseling at $80 million compared to $60 million in the House Bill. The breastfeeding peer counseling program has been funded at a level of $60 million for the last several years, so the $20 million increase is a notable improvement and victory for NWA. The full authorized amount for breastfeeding peer counselors is $90 million.
Both the Senate and House appropriations bills call for level funding of the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), which was targeted for elimination in the President's budget.
Both bills will now need to pass their respective full chambers and/or be reconciled as stand-alone legislation or for inclusion in a possible Omnibus spending bill.