National WIC Association

Weekly WIC Policy Update

January 22, 2018

Breaking News: Senate Takes Step to Approve CR to End Federal Government Shutdown

This afternoon, the US Senate approved a pivotal procedural motion by a vote of 81-18 to advance a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the government through February 8. The federal government has been shut down since Friday evening, when the Senate rejected a different CR to fund the government for another month.

As part of the agreement between Senate leadership, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has agreed to hold votes in the next three weeks on legislation that would address the status of the Dreamer population—nearly two million immigrants who came to the US as children, some of whom received protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.

The CR also includes a six-year reauthorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), nearly four months after the program’s funding expired. It is unclear whether community health centers and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program have received funding.

Despite Senate passage, the US House of Representatives must still approve the CR, and the President must sign the final legislation, in order to reopen the government. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has accepted the deal to fund the government through February 8, although it is unclear whether he echoes Senator McConnell’s pledge to advance immigration legislation in his chamber. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has rejected the agreement, reiterating her position that any deal to reopen the government must include a commitment from both House and Senate Republican leadership to move forward on the immigration debate. Nonetheless, House Democratic leadership is not committing their members to voting against a CR. The House has scheduled votes later this afternoon to consider the pending CR.

If the House passes the CR, it is likely that President Trump will sign it into law. The White House did not play an active role in the funding negotiations over the weekend. President Trump’s decision to end the DACA Program and rejection of a bipartisan DACA deal two weeks ago are key reasons for our current funding stalemate. Even if the CR passes and the federal government reopens, there is no guarantee that a longer term spending package will be passed between now and February 8. There are many outstanding issues still to be resolved, including a final resolution on Dreamers that is amenable to House and Senate Republicans and Democrats, as well as the White House. NWA will continue to update its members as the negotiations on a broader agreement continue in the coming weeks.

Federal Government in Partial Shutdown Until the House Acts

As a result of the Senate’s failure to pass a CR last Friday, the federal government entered a partial shutdown. USDA issued a press release clarifying that a temporary lapse in appropriations should not impact the essential functions of core programs of the nutrition safety net under FNS – including WIC. Despite ongoing media coverage of the shutdown’s impacts, WIC remains open in the near-term for all eligible participants. Specifically, the press release states that FNS will ensure:

“Ongoing activities include essential Federal functions to maintain the core programs of the nutrition safety net, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Child Nutrition Programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC);

  • All of these programs will continue to serve eligible people through USDA’s partners (State agencies and other grantees) utilizing legally available Federal resources previously provided to them or their own resources. All have funding available to operate through the month of February, and many have funds to continue operations through March, without additional appropriation.”

Nonetheless, USDA has furloughed roughly 70 percent of its employees today and members may have difficulty reaching federal program staff at FNS as long as the government is shut down. NWA will continue to update members on legislative efforts to resolve the spending impasse and the continuing effects of the federal shutdown, particularly relating to WIC and other USDA nutrition programs.