FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Natalie Moran
This morning, the Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled a series of spending bills for fiscal year 2021, including the Agriculture Appropriations bill that funds WIC. This signals that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will prioritize passing the full appropriations bills before the continuing resolution expires on December 11, resolving the appropriations process before a presidential transition occurs in January. Action on the appropriations package before December 11 – or another continuing resolution – is necessary to avert a government shutdown.
The FY 2021 Agriculture Appropriations bill includes $6 billion in funding for WIC, with an $800 million rescission of unspent food funds from the prior fiscal year. This maintains level funding with fiscal year 2020, recognizing the increased state caseloads reported during COVID-19. As in fiscal year 2020, appropriators fully funded set-aside priorities – including $90 million for breastfeeding peer counselors and $14 million for the infrastructure grant.
In the report language, the Senate Appropriations Committee incorporates key elements of the Supporting Healthy Outcomes for Mothers and Infants Act, a bipartisan bill to create uniform nutrition education materials for opioid use and neonatal abstinence syndrome. The bill was introduced in the House by Reps. David Trone (D-MD), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and championed in the Senate by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).
Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President and CEO of the National WIC Association, issued the following statement in response:
“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, appropriators from both parties, in both chambers of Congress, continue to recognize the importance of investing in WIC’s quality nutrition services. With hundreds of thousands of new families seeking WIC support, robust funding is needed to serve all families while equipping providers with the technology necessary to sustain remote services. With far too many families still struggling to get by, the appropriations bill is a strong start as we await a comprehensive COVID-19 economic relief package.
“We also applaud appropriators for focusing on WIC’s public health response to a parallel crisis: opioids. WIC providers play a key role in screening for substance use and educating new parents or caretakers on how to feed an infant diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome. By incorporating key provisions from the bipartisan Supporting Healthy Outcomes for Mothers and Infants Act, the appropriations bill takes an important step forward in equipping frontline providers with the evidence-based tools necessary to inform caretakers and keep babies safe, well-fed, and healthy.
“We look forward to working with both chambers of Congress in the weeks ahead to pass the FY 2021 appropriations bill and prioritize additional support for hungry families in a COVID-19 relief package.”