With the adjournment of Congress late last night, among the pieces of legislation left unresolved is the Child Nutrition reauthorization bill. The bill inched closer to passage in past weeks, and the White House continues to urge lawmakers to act — see Politico’s recent article on Michelle Obama’s involvement — but those watching the progress of the bill will have to wait until the lame duck session of Congress begins November 15th.
NSAC continues to support House passage of the Senate version of the bill even though it regrettably pays for part of the $4.5 billion cost of the bill by cutting funds previously reserved a temporary increase in food stamp benefits. Under the Senate version, a temporary increase in food stamp funding would end five months earlier in 2014 than originally planned.
Ideally the House leadership would have found a way to offset the cost of the version of the child nutrition bill passed out of the House Education and Labor Committee without resorting to the food stamps or any other farm bill funding. Unfortunately, after weeks of trying, they were unable to come up with their own package, leaving only two choices — pass the Senate bill or adopt no bill at all and thus fail to capture all the funding and policy improvements in the pending legislation.
Many child nutrition and anti-hunger advocates view passage of the Senate bill as an acceptable trade-off under trying circumstances. That view was shared by the House bill’s sponsor, Rep. George Miller (D-CA). However, many anti-hunger advocates inside and outside of Congress continue to resist, and that prevented resolution of the issue this week.
The issue is sure to be back again in the lame duck session starting in mid-November. Whether the divide over the bill continues or a resolution is reached very much remains to be seen. There is no indication at this point in time that any new consideration will be given to finding different offsets for reconsideration in November. If that proves still to be the case when Congress returns, then the same deal will be before the House – pass the Senate bill or kill child nutrition bill and do another one-year or multi-year extension of current law with no improvements.
NSAC will keep a close watch on the bill’s development when Congress reconvenes in November, and will continue to alert readers of new developments. In the meantime, NSAC encourages advocates of the bill to contact their representative to voice their support. See our Action Alert posted last week for instructions on how to contact your Representative.