24 Days in, No Progress on Ending Shutdown, FNS Working to Keep WIC Open
At 24 days, the partial federal government shutdown is now the longest shutdown of the federal government in US history. Last week, the House moved to pass individual bipartisan appropriations bills, which had previously passed the Senate, in order to reopen shuttered agencies. On the Senate side, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that he will not bring any bills to a vote that the president will not sign, likely dooming the House-passed measures on arrival. Democratic senators have been blocking all other legislation until the shutdown is addressed. One piece of legislation was passed last week and is expected to be signed into law to provide back pay to federal employees furloughed during the shutdown. This legislation does not include contract workers, who have not been provided back pay in previous shutdowns. The number of low-income federal contract workers in the DC area is estimated to be in the low thousands, according to the Coalition on Human Needs, of which NWA is a part.
NWA is pleased that USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (despite operating with only a handful of essential staff) and WIC state agencies are taking action to keep WIC clinics open through February. We urge all state agencies to continue their close partnership with their FNS regional administrator and designated essential staff to rapidly make available any potential funds for recovery. These actions are crucial to ensuring that WIC's doors stay open nationwide. Any state considering making a contingency plan or programmatic changes is urged to contact their FNS regional office administrator before making any changes to services. NWA is pleased to assist in facilitating communications if state agencies are unable to connect with regional staff.
NWA continues to call on Majority Leader McConnell and the president to immediately take action to end the shutdown for the sake of the country’s families. The longer the shutdown continues, the more significant the impact to families, who are undoubtedly confused and concerned about their continued access to WIC and other government programs. Funding services - especially those that care for mothers and babies - is one of the paramount responsibilities of the federal government, and our leaders should act now to ensure continued funding for WIC and other programs.
WIC in the Media
NWA has been working to get the message out to the media that WIC is open. We have given a number of interviews to national news outlets, and NWA’s media statements and releases (see the latest one) and have generated articles that mention WIC in these major outlets, including one on Vox late last week - " Infants and pregnant women will soon pay the price for Trump’s wall shutdown."
If you speak to the media, you may find NWA’s talking points and FAQs on the shutdown helpful.
Take Action to Support WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselors
Please join us in our virtual day of action to support the WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor program. Tomorrow, January 15, breastfeeding peer counselors from across the country are traveling to Washington, DC, to educate legislators about the value of the WIC breastfeeding peer counselor program. You can help amplify their message by contacting your legislators here. You can use this action alert to email, tweet, or call your members of Congress. NWA has already written the message for you, so all you need to do is provide your name and address.
Please Note: This is a lobbying action. As a reminder, it is your democratic right to lobby. Lobbying is a particular type of advocacy involving an attempt to influence specific legislation by communicating directly with an elected official or his or her staff. Each state has specific laws for state employees about lobbying efforts while on the job. We recommend limiting lobbying efforts to coffee breaks, lunch breaks, after hours and other times not considered “work time.”