House Appropriations Committee Vote Weakens Child Nutrition Safety Net
Washington – The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations voted today to approve legislation funding the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and related agencies for federal fiscal year (FY) 2014. The legislation provides $214 million less for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) for FY 2014. The lower WIC funding brings the bill in line with lower overall funding allocations made under the House-passed FY 2014 budget resolution. That appropriations allocation package would result in cuts totaling nearly $15 billion to appropriations bills that fund critical children’s priorities. The bill specifies that funding to serve the immediate needs of current beneficiaries is to be prioritized, a move that is anticipated to result in the following funding reductions:
- No funding for an initiative that helps new mothers breastfeed their babies;
- No funding for a congressionally-mandated initiative to modernize WIC, by moving from paper eligibility cards to more secure electronic cards;
- USDA will likely need to deplete the WIC contingency fund, leaving no reserves to accommodate increases in food costs or increases in need driven by economic conditions.
In response, First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley released the following statement:
“If budgets are about priorities, appropriations allocations that cut support for children’s initiatives show that the House doesn’t place a high priority on kids. Yes, the federal government has budget problems, but making it harder for babies to get the nutrition they need is the wrong way to solve them.”
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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.