National WIC Association

Weekly WIC Policy Update

June 24, 2019

House to Consider WIC Funding Amid FY 2020 Appropriations Debate
This week, the House of Representatives continues to consider the second spending package for fiscal year 2020, which includes the Agriculture/FDA bill that funds WIC. The bill provides $6 billion in overall funding for the program, a slight decrease of $75 million from FY 2019 levels. The bill also includes an unprecedented investment in the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program, investing the fully authorized amount of $90 million for the first time ever.

The second spending package includes four other appropriations bills – including the Commerce-Justice-Science bill, which funds the Census. Last week, the first spending package was passed by the House, including four appropriations bills. The first spending package included two of the larger appropriations bills: Defense and Labor-HHS-Education. Should the second spending package pass, the House will move to consider the three remaining appropriations bills – including funding for the Department of Homeland Security. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has long indicated that he would like to pass all twelve appropriations bills by the end of June.

The Senate has yet to begin consideration of any individual appropriations bill, as Senate leadership awaits a bipartisan budget deal on overall spending numbers for FY 2020. The White House has indicated support for the House’s FY 2020 WIC funding levels, although the Administration has taken issue with the overall bill – including provisions to halt the relocation of the Economic Research Service to Kansas City.

New Reporting Spotlights Inhumane Conditions of Migrant Children in Detention
Over the past few weeks, national news outlets have highlighted the inhumane conditions faced by the hundreds of infants and children detained at border control stations. At one border facility in Texas, reporters indicate that children have gone weeks without adequate food, water, sanitation, healthcare, and adult supervision. The reports of inhumane conditions came days after government lawyers argued that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) should not have to provide soap or toothbrushes to children. The Administration has also directed federal agencies to cancel activities deemed “non-essential” – including English classes, soccer and other recreation activities, and legal aid.

A 1997 consent decree known as the Flores agreement requires that CBP keep migrant children in “safe and sanitary” conditions while they are in custody; in addition, it requires that migrant children be held for no more than 72 hours. Currently, CBP is not complying with this agreement, and is detaining some children for nearly a month. Lawyers conducting inspections earlier this month said they discovered similar conditions in at least seven facilities in Texas.

On Sunday, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence responded to these reports by blaming congressional Democrats for not agreeing to a $4.6 billion emergency spending bill intended for the border crisis. Democrats are refusing to provide increased funding for border detentions and are instead demanding that CBP comply with the Flores agreement by placing children with parents, relatives, or other guardians within 72 hours of initial custody. NWA has repeatedly called on the Administration to comply with the Flores settlement and prioritize the needs of detained children.