Washington Update: Week of February 8

February 9, 2016
Washington Update

Global Food Security Act/Feed the Future

  • Currently 117 cosponsors in the House. The last to be added were Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.-19) and Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.-35) on Feb. 1.
  • We expect the bill to be filed in the House. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is still hoping for suspension of the rules to pass (when debate on the bill is limited and amendments can’t be offered during the vote — a good thing for this act). The committee is close to agreeing on a final text with the House Agriculture Committee. It seems this may take a while longer. From there, this issue would move to the Senate and a path forward with the Foreign Relations Committee. We might see movement in this committee in late February, but it is waiting for the House to pass the bill through.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization

  • Still waiting for the Senate child nutrition bill to be brought to the floor for a full vote and for the House to introduce its own bill.
  • As a reminder, we expect the president’s budget request to include significant funding for expanding summer EBT (electronic benefits transfer, a method of providing food to children) and making the application process for school meals easier for families (see below). However, we still need to push Congress to pass a child nutrition reauthorization this year. The president’s budget request addresses only a few specific pieces of child nutrition programs. A child nutrition reauthorization could make needed improvements to the ways these programs work and improve access and nutrition for children in a much broader way.

Budget & Appropriations

  • President Obama will submit his budget request today (Feb. 9).
  • Overall, we expect positive requests for domestic hunger and poverty programs and international poverty-focused development assistance.
  • The president will be requesting a significant increase in funding for EBT (electronic benefit transfer) in the summer meals program for children. If funded, this request would definitely shrink the child hunger gap during the summer.

Mass Incarceration

  • Republicans and Democrats both want tweaks to the Senate bill, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA), before bringing it to the floor. We will see if both sides can come to an agreement on the bill.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told Sen. John Cornyn of Texas (the Republican Whip and one of the lead Republicans on the bill) that he needs to ensure there are enough Republicans committed to voting yes on the bill before he’ll bring it to the floor. A few more Republican cosponsors would definitely help. But even if they don’t cosponsor, if they are willing to commit to voting yes on the bill, that would dramatically help move the bill to the floor.

SNAP

  • Last Wednesday, the House Agriculture Nutrition subcommittee held a hearing on incentives for low-income families to purchase fruits and vegetables. The hearing examined pilot programs that were authorized in the 2010 and 2014 farm bill, mostly focusing on programs that help people use their SNAP benefits at farmers markets to purchase fresh produce.
  • The hearing was very positive. Both Republican and Democrat subcommittee members who attended were very engaged. These farmers market incentive programs have wide appeal because they not only help SNAP participants buy healthier foods, but also help local farmers sell more foods and help communities have stronger markets.

Act Now!

Tell Congress to increase funding for the nutrition and health of mothers, newborns, and young children. Call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. representative or U.S. senators today!

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2.5 million more children are surviving since 2008 in 24 countries thanks to USAID efforts. Graphic by Doug Puller / Bread for the World

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