Pro-Breastfeeding Legislation Signed Into Law
Last Thursday, legislation – long championed by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) – requiring that federal buildings provide a designated lactation room available both to employees and members of the public was signed into law. The new law is a major step forward in normalizing breastfeeding. The legislation was broadly supported by both parties in Congress, with Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) shepherding the bill through the Senate.
The law requires that all federal buildings provide access to a room, other than a bathroom, that is hygienic, shielded from public view, free from intrusion, and contains a chair, working surface, and an electrical outlet for breast pump use. The law provides certain exceptions, most notably if the building does not provide access to a bathroom.
NWA applauds the passage of this law to make breastfeeding more allowable and accessible in the community and thanks Del. Holmes Norton for her tireless leadership in advancing this common-sense legislation.
Senate to Vote on Budget Deal This Week After House Passage
Last Thursday, the House passed a bipartisan budget deal by a vote of 284-149. The budget deal – negotiated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin – will increase federal spending by $320 billion over two years, including an additional $27 billion for non-defense discretionary programs in fiscal year 2020. The deal also extends the debt ceiling through spring 2021, extending government borrowing through the 2020 election.
In a victory for advocates of robust investment in domestic discretionary programs, including NWA, the budget deal ends the controversial provision that has plagued budget negotiations for a decade – the automatic spending cuts first enacted under the Budget Control Act of 2011.
After House passage, the Senate intends to vote on the budget deal this week before adjourning for the August recess. The budget deal is a necessary step before the Senate can consider FY 2020 appropriations bills. In June, the House advanced appropriations bills using placeholder total numbers that were slightly higher than the budget deal reached with the White House. NWA will continue to update members as the Senate considers the budget deal and crafts spending bills for FY 2020.
USDA Proposes Harmful SNAP Rule, Jeopardizing Access for 3 Million Participants
Last Tuesday, the Administration announced a proposed rule that would undermine SNAP’s broad-based categorical eligibility, adding new barriers to access SNAP’s nutrition assistance. Currently, categorical eligibility streamlines SNAP’s certification process by simplifying the asset and income tests, allowing more families to readily access SNAP assistance. If this proposed rule is implemented, it would drastically limit the scope of categorical eligibility, leaving many SNAP households ineligible to continue receiving vital nutrition assistance.
In the proposed rule, USDA acknowledges that the latest proposal would worsen hunger in the U.S. and jeopardize nutrition assistance for nearly three million individuals. Many of those affected will be children, disallowing access to school meals through categorical eligibility. Reduced access to SNAP can also impact families’ access to WIC services through adjunctive eligibility.
The 2018 farm bill rejected several proposals that would have limited access to SNAP, including attempts to reduce categorical eligibility. Similarly, USDA proposed a rule this spring that would have imposed a three-month time limit on adult SNAP participants without children. In response to last week’s news, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the top Democratic senator on the Senate Agriculture Committee, stated: “This proposal is yet another attempt by this administration to circumvent Congress and make harmful changes to nutrition assistance that have been repeatedly rejected on a bipartisan basis.”
The proposed rule is now open for public comment until September 23. NWA will be releasing template comments and other materials to assist WIC staff and agencies with responding to the proposed rule. If there are any additional questions, please reach out to Brian Dittmeier, Senior Public Policy Counsel, at email@example.com.