WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) unveiled language for an omnibus spending package that is the result of bipartisan negotiations with Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Vice Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL). Congressional leaders have announced that the omnibus is expected to work its way through Congress before the end of the week, when the current continuing resolution is set to expire.
The bill sustains enhanced fruit and vegetable benefits under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) through the end of the fiscal year and includes substantial reforms to summer feeding programs, including the establishment of a permanent Summer EBT benefit and expansion of non-congregate options. The summer feeding improvements are offset by reductions to summer 2023 Pandemic-EBT benefits and the phasing out of emergency allotments for SNAP households starting in March 2023.
The following statement is attributed to Dr. Jamila Taylor, President & CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA):
“While the omnibus includes some key investments to improve food access for families with children, this bill is a missed opportunity to shore up nutrition and health outcomes for pregnant people and young children. Phasing out emergency allotments for SNAP households and creating a pathway for States to cut off Medicaid coverage will have real impacts on families. Congress made the decision to limit these federal supports for families this coming spring without laying the groundwork for other program improvements that could fill the gap. We are deeply disappointed that Congress did not comprehensively reauthorize child nutrition programs, including reforms that would streamline and modernize access to WIC services.
“WIC modernization is broadly supported by program participants and providers, the general public, and legislators on both sides of the aisle. With similar telehealth flexibilities extended to the healthcare sector in the omnibus, Congress failed to appropriately and comprehensively plan for the premature end to SNAP and Medicaid flexibilities. Even as Congress picks up the Farm Bill next year, we urge legislators to continue to prioritize statutory reforms that will modernize WIC services.
“Broader supports for families with children were also left on the chopping block. It is unconscionable that bipartisan solutions to provide labor accommodations for pregnant and lactating workers have not yet come up for a vote in the Senate. On behalf of the more than 1.4 million women receiving WIC services, we urge the Senate to find a pathway for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act before the end of this legislative session. Other key investments - including an expansion of the Child Tax Credit and passing the Black Maternal Health Momnibus - should be top priorities in the new Congress.
“Of the provisions that made it into the omnibus, we are encouraged that Congress has sustained bipartisan support for enhanced WIC fruit and vegetable benefits. Nearly 5 million children and women rely on these benefits to put healthy foods on the table each month, and we are strongly supportive of recent USDA proposals to make this benefit permanent. And, despite the challenging offsets, we are encouraged that Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Boozman (R-AR) reached agreement to make Summer EBT permanent and provide ongoing nutrition support for more than 9 million school-age children.
“These steps forward - and the steps not taken - underscore how much work is left to reduce hunger and child poverty. WIC has worked to not only meet these goals, but to meaningfully improve health outcomes for the next generation, thus bending the curve on healthcare spending. If the federal budget is a reflection of our national priorities, we urge the incoming Congress to pick up where this bill leaves off and swiftly move to boost investment and modernize services for WIC and other child nutrition programs in the new year.”
The National WIC Association (NWA) is the nonprofit membership organization for State and local providers of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). NWA is the go-to voice of and for WIC staff at more than 12,000 WIC locations across the country who work to support more than 6.2 million mothers and young children. For over three decades, NWA has worked to build broad, bipartisan consensus for WIC’s programmatic goals and public health mission. NWA provides member-driven advocacy; education, guidance, and support to WIC staff; and drive innovation to strengthen WIC as we work toward a nation of healthier women, children, and their families. Learn more at www.nwica.org.