FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Natalie Moran
Earlier this evening, the House of Representatives passed (359-57) a bipartisan agreement to extend government funding through December 11, 2020. The continuing resolution includes an additional $8 billion in nutrition aid by extending the Pandemic-EBT Program, as well as critical provisions that extend U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) waiver authority for WIC and other child nutrition programs through September 2021. Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association, issued the following statement in response:
“In this spring’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Congress acted in a bipartisan manner to ensure that the federal nutrition safety net was mobilized so that families could receive uninterrupted support by establishing the Pandemic-EBT Program and providing novel waiver authority for WIC and other child nutrition programs. This evening’s agreement reflects a sustained consensus on Capitol Hill that continued flexibilities for the federal nutrition programs are a necessary response to stymie the significant consequences of this unprecedented public health crisis. We express our sincere thanks to the steadfast leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi for continuing to prioritize the needs of children and families. We’d also like to thank our legislative champions – including Chairman Bobby Scott, Rep. Kim Schrier, and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler – for lifting up the need for continued WIC flexibilities into 2021.
“WIC waivers work. Since waivers were first granted in response to COVID-19, state and local WIC providers have adapted to deliver vital nutrition support while minimizing in-person contact and keeping families and staff safe. But this common-sense approach was challenged by USDA’s decision to impose manufactured and arbitrary deadlines over the past several months, extending the waivers in short-term increments and stoking continued uncertainty and confusion among WIC providers and participants. After repeated pressure from providers, physicians, advocacy partners, and legislative champions, USDA waited until only yesterday to issue a longer-term waiver tied to the public health emergency.
“Now, USDA has no excuses. With this continuing resolution, Congress is reaffirming the bipartisan consensus that WIC and other programs should have continued flexibility throughout COVID-19 to respond to the needs of pregnant women and hungry children. USDA must continue to extend those flexibilities on behalf of program providers and the millions of families that rely on the federal nutrition programs.
“Congress must also take further action to address the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Over one hundred days ago, the House-passed HEROES Act included robust nutrition provisions that ensured no family would have to go hungry. The HEROES Act wisely enhanced the benefit levels for SNAP households and increased the value of WIC fruit and vegetable purchases, ensuring that families would have greater access to nutritious foods throughout the pandemic. For months, these urgent and necessary provisions have waited for a vote in the Senate. Unwilling to recognize the urgency of need, the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has steadfastly refused to bring the measure to the floor. No cause is more necessary than addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on our families, especially those that are struggling to put enough food on the table. We call for swift action to reach a sensible compromise on COVID-19 relief that appropriately accounts for the ongoing crisis of hunger.”