By Bread staff
As 2019 came to a close, Congress successfully negotiated appropriations for fiscal year 2020. The appropriations package provided the first substantial increase since 2010 for programs aimed at helping people in the United States struggling with poverty.
It also increased international aid to help more people around the world move out of poverty.
President Trump had proposed deep cuts to international aid. Congress instead increased poverty-focused international assistance by $1.3 million or 4 percent. The increase included $5 million for global nutrition, bringing annual nutrition funding to a total of $150 million.
“The $5 million increase will allow 50,000 more children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and 200,000 women with anemia receive treatment,” said Heather Valentine, director of government relations at Bread for the World.
The legislation also provides protection for poverty-focused aid to Central America and food-security aid worldwide. This special oversight gives Congress the ability to ensure food-security funds are being disbursed and are not in danger of cuts at the end of the fiscal year.
Congress also increased funding for poverty-focused domestic programs as well. The most substantial increases went to low-income housing programs and education for low-income children.
Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships received enough funding to ensure access for several thousand more families with young children. Child nutrition programs were funded at $474 million, providing meals for an estimated 31 million children.
The WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counseling Program received an additional $30 million which is enough to staff peer counselors in every WIC agency across the country for the first time.
The appropriations package fully funds the First Step Act—the criminal justice reform bill that Bread helped pass last year—and increases funding for Second Chance re-entry grants. These grants will help organizations continue to provide education and employment training and programs for individuals who were formerly incarcerated.
It also funds the U.S. Census, which will reduce under-counting of low-income people and increase federal funding for low-income communities.
However, in December Congress also passed a $427 billion package of tax cuts that will benefit businesses and corporations, yet again neglecting to expand tax credits for low-income families and workers.
Bread for the World’s government relations staff contributed to this article.