House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan (R-WI) is scheduled to release his FY2015 budget plan this week. It is expected to contain large spending cuts, deeper than in previous budgets, to balance the budget over 10 years. Notable changes may include block granting Medicaid and SNAP. In FY2015, however, the plan will stick to the $1.014 trillion discretionary cap, which is good news for WIC.
Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies chaired by Congressman Aderholt (R-AL) held a hearing with Under Secretary Concannon providing testimony. WIC issues that came up included the WIC food package and eligibility. Under Secretary Concannon stated how USDA is addressing the issues of variance in eligibility and that the USDA will stand firm on keeping the WIC food packages science-based.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro submitted a letter for the record signed by nutrition and public health groups, including NWA, opposing Congressional intervention in determining the components of the WIC food packages. Additionally, during a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies hearing the previous week with Secretary Vilsack providing testimony, Congressman Aderholt noted that he intends to fund WIC to meet all caseload needs, providing a more positive tone for WIC during this appropriations cycle. However, this does not automatically mean that set asides like breastfeeding peer counselors and MIS/EBT will be funded as well.
It is also very likely that additional Congressional attempts to include white potatoes in the WIC food packages will occur throughout the appropriations process in both the House and Senate. Stay tuned for sign on letters and action alerts about these issues!