House Republican Tax Plan Will Result in WIC Cuts
Last week, House Republicans unveiled their tax reform bill. The bill makes a wide range of changes to the tax code, but the most important issue for WIC is what the bill will mean for non-defense discretionary spending. The recently passed budget resolution authorized legislators to spend up to $1.5 trillion on the tax plan – and the House bill reportedly costs an additional $10 billion (a total of $1.51 trillion), according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. This puts pressure on legislators to find savings, which will likely come from cuts to programs that serve low-income families, like WIC.
The House Ways and Means Committee will spend the next four days debating the bill. Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) intends to allow revisions during this process, but not once the bill reaches the full House floor, which could be as soon as next week. Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch (R-UT) says that he will release a Senate version after the House Ways and Means Committee finishes their hearings, which could be at the end of this week.
The National WIC Association continues to monitor the tax plan and related legislation closely, and will update our membership on developments that will impact the WIC program. We encourage members to join the webinar hosted by the Coalition on Human Needs and FRAC this Wednesday to learn more about why the tax plan matters for WIC. More details and registration information are below.
CHIP Reauthorization Bill Passes House
The House passed a bill last Friday reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by a vote of 242-174. The vast majority of House Democrats (171 out of 186) voted against the legislation, which would extend CHIP funding for 5 years but would pay for this extension by taking money away from Medicare and the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Prevention and Public Health Fund helps pay for immunizations and research into preventing diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
It is very unlikely the House-passed bill will pass the Senate, as Senate Democrats are expected to oppose the bill. Instead, Congress will likely pair CHIP reauthorization with the FY 2018 spending bill which must pass by December 8.
CHIP funding expired at the end of September; luckily, most states have had enough money left over to carry CHIP until the end of 2017. However, children from some states face the possibility of losing their health insurance soon if Congress does not act.
NWA Applauds Withdrawal of USDA Chief Scientist Nominee
On Thursday, nominee for Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Sam Clovis withdrew from the confirmation process. The National WIC Association applauds this development. Mr. Clovis did not meet the statutory requirement that the position be filled by a scientist. Further, Mr. Clovis has publicly expressed bigoted views that put into question his ability to lead the Economic Research Service—a key agency for WIC research —in an unbiased and effective manner. NWA awaits a new nomination to fill this important USDA position.
FY 2018 Appropriations Continues to be Delayed
A number of controversies continue to plague negotiations over funding the government in FY 2018, including a partisan disagreement over border security and immigration protections. Democrats are pushing for protection for “dreamers,” young people who immigrated to the US as children and would like to remain in the country. Many Republicans, including President Trump, oppose these efforts.