WEEKLY WIC POLICY UPDATE
July 27, 2015
WIC 2016 Funding Update: This timeline covers WIC Appropriations progress for the last six months, as well as what we can expect in the next few months:
- February 2015: President Obama released his 2016 budget on February 3, which provides a total of $6.62 billion to the WIC program, including a contingency reserve of $150 million, $60 million for breastfeeding peer counselors, $14 million for infrastructure, and $55 million for management information systems ($30 million for management information systems [MIS] and $25 million for electronic benefit transfer systems [EBT]). The President’s budget estimated that WIC would serve approximately 8.5 million mothers and young children per month.
- March 2015: NWA published our final FY 2016 Funding Agenda, which asked for a total of $6.684 billion for WIC, largely reflecting the President’s budget, except that it asked for $61 million in additional funds, including $30 million more for breastfeeding peer counselors, $25 million more for MIS/EBT, and $6 million for enhanced fruit and vegetable cash value vouchers for fully breastfeeding women.
- June/July 2015: House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations drafts.
- The House bill mark, approved on July 8 by the full House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), provides $6.484 billion to the WIC program, including $60 million for breastfeeding peer counselors, $55 million for management information systems, including WIC EBT systems and activities, and $14 million for WIC infrastructure. The House bill mark does not provide monies for the contingency fund. This mark is significantly ($110 million) lower than the President’s budget, largely due to declining caseloads in the WIC program and thus lower predicted program participation in 2016.
- The Senate bill mark, approved on July 16 by the full Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), provides $6.513 billion for WIC in FY2016, which is $29 million more than the House bill. Like the House bill, the Senate bill also provides $60 million for breastfeeding peer counselors, $55 million for management information systems, including WIC EBT systems and activities, and $14 million for WIC infrastructure.
- September 2015 (what to expect): Now, both House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations bills await votes in their respective full chambers. Even if the House Agriculture bill passes before the end of the fiscal year, it is unlikely that the Senate bill will pass with enough Democratic votes unless the sequestration budget caps are eased or lifted. Any final budget deal, altering the Budget Control Act of 2011 that set the caps, will need the President’s signature, who has made clear he also wants to see the spending caps eased on domestic discretionary spending – not simply defense spending promoted by Republicans –before he signs off on revisions. The implications of a potential stale mate in the budget agreement are at best a continuing resolution (CR) and at worst a Federal Government shutdown.
WIC Reauthorization Update: Although authorizers in the House and Senate were reportedly working this month on a draft of the 2015 Child Nutrition Act (which sets policy for WIC, among other federal programs such as School Lunch and the Child and Adult Care Food Program), it is looking increasingly like neither chamber will have sufficient time to produce a draft by the end of this week. In other words, if authorizers are to meet the September 30 deadline for this bill, we will likely see drafts in September following the August/Labor Day recess. There is also a strong possibility that authorizers will fail to meet the 30 September deadline, in which case they will be forced to pass an extension of the current Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act so that reauthorizing legislation can be passed in FY 2016.