Child Nutrition Reauthorization: Last Tuesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Congressman John Kline (R-MN), sent a confidential discussion draft of their Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill to partners. It has since been leaked to the media allowing us to share it with our members. This draft has not yet passed the Committee, and changes to the draft may be made before the bill is considered. No markup on Child Nutrition Reauthorization has yet been scheduled in the House, but it may take place soon.
The committee's discussion draft differs significantly from the bipartisan Senate Child Nutrition Bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee in January. With regard to WIC, the House discussion draft does not include a provision to give states the option to enroll children in WIC until their sixth birthday or until they enter full day kindergarten, as the Senate bill does. The discussion draft also departs from the Senate bill by excluding the Senate Agriculture Committee’s provision to give states the option to certify infants for up two years.
The National WIC Association is disappointed in the House’s discussion draft, as it does not represent bipartisanship or compromise, as the Senate bill does. It includes provisions to weaken child nutrition programs, including WIC and others, by putting up additional barriers to enrollment and administrative hurdles and by undercutting nutrition standards. House Democrats, along with the Obama Administration, are expected to oppose the bill, if it ultimately reflects the current draft when it passes out of Committee.
The National WIC Association is currently drafting a side-by-side comparison of the Senate bill and House draft regarding all provisions that impact WIC. We will share this comparison chart as soon as it is ready.
Budget and Appropriations: The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), announced last week that the Committee will be announcing its allocations for the 12 appropriations subcommittees this Thursday, April 14. These allocations are known as “302(b)s.” Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee, stressed last week Democrats’ principles for cooperation on appropriations negotiations. “We still stick to our three principles: parity between defense and nondefense, fair allocation and no poison pill riders,” Mikulski said last Wednesday.
The Senate has yet to adopt a budget resolution, having missed an April 1 deadline for passing a budget out of committee. However, a provision in the Balanced Budget Act of 2015 allows the Senate Budget Committee, chaired by Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY), to file the top line budget numbers between April 15 and May 15, 2016, if no FY 2017 budget resolution has been passed by that time. It is expected that the subcommittee allocations will be formally established during that time.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies—the subcommittee that sets funding for WIC—will host a markup of its FY 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill this Wednesday, April 13 at 4:00 PM Eastern Time in 2362-A Rayburn.