After opening business, which includes swearing in members, electing the Speaker, and approving a rules package, the House of Representatives is expected to kick off its 116th session today with two votes to reopen the federal government. The first vote is a package of full appropriations for six of the seven expired bills, including Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration, which funds WIC. The second vote will provide a continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 8, allowing border wall negotiations to continue while the government reopens.
The first spending package includes $6.15 billion for WIC, which is the higher, Senate-passed level, as compared to the $6 billion that passed the House Appropriations committee in May 2018. National WIC Association advocacy led to an amendment introduced by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) in the Senate to include an additional $7.5 million in funds for the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program, which was included in the House package, bringing the total to $67.5 million. This is the first funding increase for peer counseling in nearly a decade (it was authorized at a level of $90 million in 2010) and represents a major victory for breastfeeding advocates. NWA is grateful to our members, partners, and congressional leaders for their support of these efforts, even as we continue to push for full funding at $90 million.
Regrettably, the bill also contains a larger rescission than was included in either the House or Senate appropriations bills, of $501 million, as compared to $400 million in the Senate-passed bill, and $300 million in the House Appropriations committee-passed bill.
Both of the spending packages are expected to pass the House today. In the meantime, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that he will not bring any bill for a vote that the president will veto. Congressional leaders met with the president yesterday but did not make any progress on ending the impasse over border wall funding. They are expected to meet again on Friday, at which point we may have more insight into the likelihood of the partial government shutdown continuing into next week. NWA will continue to update members on the status of the shutdown and WIC funding.
If you are experiencing any difficulties as a result of the shutdown or have concerns about running out of funds before the end of January, please contact Brian Dittmeier at firstname.lastname@example.org and Ali Hard at email@example.com.