National WIC Association

Weekly WIC Policy Update

July 8, 2019

Printing begun for The 2020 Census Forms, With Citizenship Question Excluded
The President announced Friday that the Administration was seeking ways to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. One possible remedy - an Executive Order. According to the Justice Department, the printing has already begun for 1.5 billion paper forms, letters, and other mailings without the question.

Early last week, as quickly as the Administration - though apparently not the President - had made the decision to print the 2020 Census forms without a citizenship question, (following a ruling from the Supreme Court against keeping the question) it reversed course, insisting (upon the Twitter direction of the President) that they would find a pathway to legally include the question. The Supreme Court had rejected the Administration's argument that the inclusion of a citizenship question was to help the Justice Department gather information to help enforce the Voting Rights Act as “contrived.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, has stated strong opposition to excluding the citizenship question. Critics worry that including the question will decrease participation in the Census, especially among households who are non-citizens negatively impacting the fair distribution of $880 billion in federal funding and Congressional representation. One thing is certain, the taking of the Census is not discretionary. It is mandated by the Constitution.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “the "Census clause" or sometimes called the "Enumeration clause" is found in Article I, 1, § 2, cl. 3 of Constitution. After taking into account the removal and additions that have occurred with later amendments, that clause reads as follows: "Representatives . . . shall be apportioned among the several States . . . according to their respective Numbers . . . . The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct." Further, Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment states that "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed." “The Constitution uses the word "numbers" or "persons" -- not "citizens," or "legal residents," or "those lawfully present" as the authors suggest. Moreover, the Constitution wholly and explicitly empowers Congress [not the President] to sort out the details.” 

Finally, also on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge George Hazel is moving forward with a case that claims the Trump Administration intended to discriminate against immigrant communities of color by adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Senate Republicans Are Making Progress with the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, has indicated that Senate Republicans are closer to finishing a Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill.

The WIC program is included in this reauthorization process. It has been nearly 10 years, since the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, included WIC policy revisions. Both the House Education and Labor Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee have jurisdiction over program policy decisions.

Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) hopes to begin negotiations during the July Fourth recess, and strives to approve a bill before the annual August congressional recess. On the House side, negotiations have been stalled due to disagreements over school-lunch nutrition standards. Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said the committee’s top priority is getting a higher education reauthorization bill now, which is in a similar spot as Child Nutrition Reauthoirzation. Although not much progress has been made on the House side, the Committee plans on introducing its own version.

Starting August 2, the Senate has a five-week recess scheduled, while the House will be on recess for six weeks as of July 26.

Bipartisan Border Package Agreement & Senate Leadership Awaits a Budget Deal
On June 27 the House passed and sent to the President, by a vote of 305-102, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s version of the Homeland Security Appropriations bill providing $4.59 billion to among other priorities attempt to address what has become the nation’s southern border humanitarian crisis.

Many moderate Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the bill, with 129 Democrats joining 176 Republicans in favor, and 7 Republicans joining 95 Democrats against.

Also during the week of June 24, the House of Representatives passed its second minibus package (H.R. 3055), including the Agriculture-FDA bill that funds the WIC program. The bill provides $6 billion in overall funding for the program, while the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program - with NWA advocacy leadership - was fully authorized at $90 million for the first time ever.

Senate leadership is still awaiting a bipartisan budget deal on overall spending numbers for FY 2020 before consideration of any individual appropriations bills.

NWA Supports the Hot Cars Act of 2019
The National WIC Association urges Congress to pass the Hot Cars Act (H.R. 3593), which would ensure all new cars are equipped with a system that detects and alerts drivers and caregivers to the presence of a child in the backseat. According to, in 2019 at least 17 children have been killed in hot cars. The passage of this act, introduced in the House last week, would likely prevent dozens of heatstroke deaths each year. Requiring car manufacturers to install this technology has broad support, including from the public health, consumer safety, law enforcement, first responder, and animal protection communities. The Senate introduced its version of the bill (the HOT CARS Act of 2019, S. 1601) in May.