Appropriations Limbo Continues
The current Continuing Resolution (CR) is set to expire in less than 8 weeks, piling on pressure for Congressional leaders to hop to it with passage of appropriations (funding) bills for the remainder of the current 2017 fiscal year or stare down the risks of a federal government shutdown.
On Wednesday of this week, the House is expected to begin the process of clearing funding bills by considering a nearly $584 billion defense appropriations bill snagging better than half of the pool of domestic discretionary funding, the same pool that funds WIC
Despite the effort being shown to begin consideration of funding bills, there is speculation that Congressional leaders may find themselves in the awkward place of having to cobble together yet another CR to avoid the embarrassment of shutdown. This only compounds WIC’s already challenged funding environment. The continuing uncertainty is contributing to planning risks for WIC staff.
Affordable Care Act Risks
Despite a rising tide of support for the Affordable Care Act among Republican voters and Trump supporters, this week, House Republicans are expected to begin their efforts to repeal and replace elements of the Affordable Care Act with provisions they contend will lower costs and guarantee all Americans access to health insurance.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health, Chair Michael Burgess, R-TX, is expected to release bill language perhaps as early as tonight for a markup on Wednesday that will likely significantly change Medicaid using block grants, per capita caps, or repeal the Medicaid expansion. The risks of these alterations are not insignificant as they would likely slash federal funding for Medicaid, shift costs to states and result in millions losing coverage as states struggle to meet need under rising budgetary pressures.
Reductions in Medicaid participation will have real life consequences for WIC families and could potentially affect WIC participation and Medicaid Adjunctive Eligibility.
The House Ways and Means Committee, Chair Kevin Brady, R-TX, may also take a stab at the Act as it considers provisions under its jurisdiction.
Trump Agriculture Secretary Nominee Former Georgia Governor Perdue in Limbo
Former Georgia Governor and Trump nominee to serve as USDA Secretary, Sonny Perdue, continues to wait for a confirmation hearing date to be set by the Senate Agriculture Committee, Chaired by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-KS, (Ranking Member Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI). The Committee has agreed not to proceed with hearings until all paperwork is completed and received from the White House, and that includes the FBI’s still in process background check. In the meantime, other political appointments also remain vacant at USDA, with acting career appointees serving in a range of capacities, including as FNCS Under Secretary and FNS Administrator.
NWA Friend and Former Secretary of Agriculture, Clayton Yeutter, Dies
Eustis, Nebraska native, former Secretary of Agriculture (1989-91), the Hon. Clayton Yeutter, died Saturday March 4 at his home in Potomac, MD, following a four year battle with colon cancer. He was 86. Secretary Yeutter, who served under President George Herbert Walker Bush, was the first Agriculture Secretary to address a NWA (then NAWD) annual conference. Secretary Yeutter and his leadership team, including WIC and NWA friend, former FNCS Asst. Secretary Catherine Bertini, were particularly appreciative and supportive of WIC’s important public health nutrition role for our nation’s at-risk mothers and young children.
Secretary Yeutter was a tremendously gracious, respected, and respectful man in both his professional and personal lives. He previously served in various leadership capacities at USDA and as U.S. trade representative under President Ronald Reagan, leading negotiations of what was then the U.S. Canada Free Trade Agreement, which later became NAFTA. Following his role as Secretary, he served briefly as chairman of the Republican National Committee, before returning to the White House to serve as counselor to President Bush.