Washington Update: Week of April 18

Washington Update

Global Food Security Act/Feed the Future

  • In a major step toward victory for Bread activists but especially for people who are hungry, the House of Representatives passed the Global Food Security Act last Tuesday by a vote of 370-33. Although we’ve passed that milestone, Bread is asking activists to contact their representative to thank him/her for a “yes” vote on the act.
  • The Senate still needs to pass its version of the bill.
  • There are slight differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. If the Senate passes its version, there will still be work for Congress before the bill can be signed into law by the president. We’ve heard that the House and Senate are unlikely to conference, meaning that either chamber will have to take up the other’s version of the bill. The House voting on the Senate’s version is the more likely option, so we are expecting to do more lobbying in the House in the future, but the timeline is not yet known.

See Bread’s analysis on this bill.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization

  • We continue to wait and see how the House Education and Workforce Committee plans to move forward with the leaked child nutrition discussion draft bill. The committee is awaiting Congressional Budge Office scores and plans to mark up the bill as soon as it has them.

Budget & Appropriations

Despite a lack of a budget resolution in either chamber, the Senate is moving forward with appropriations bills in committee and on the Senate floor this week. The House Appropriations Committee is also working through its bills.

The House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee marked up its fiscal year 2017 agriculture appropriations bill last Wednesday. The full committee will consider the bill today. The Agriculture Appropriations bill funds some domestic nutrition programs as well as international food-aid programs. Overall, the bill provides $21.3 billion for agriculture programs, $451 million below last year’s levels. As it stands, the bill includes funding for the following programs:

  • WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) at $6.35 billion, level funding from FY 2016. The National WIC Association is confident that this funding will be sufficient to meet caseloads for FY 2017.
  • Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer Demonstration Projects at $21 million. This is $2 million less than what was enacted in FY 2016, but $5 million more than what was enacted in FY15.
  • Food for Peace (P.L. 480): No funding for local and regional purchase program and includes language that is anti-food aid reform
  • McGovern–Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program

Food-Aid Reform

  • As mentioned above, the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee marked up a funding bill that does not include any funding for local and regional purchases of food aid. The bill does, however, contain very negative language about food-aid reform and factual inaccuracies in many places. We’re working with the committee in hopes that it can address them. Specifically, the report says, “No data has shown that the enactment of these reforms has produced increased feeding of beneficiaries and quicker food aid delivery as promised.” Case studies of programs that have benefitted from food-aid reform clearly show that there have been substantial benefits, both in terms of reaching more beneficiaries and delivering aid faster.
  • There have been a few hearings recently mentioning food aid and cargo preference, including a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on The President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request for Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Programs, as well as a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Logistics and Sealift Force Requirements hearing. Reps. John Garamendi (D-Calif), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Randy Forbes (R-Va.) are gearing up to include an increase in cargo preference to the National Defense Authorization Act.

Mass Incarceration

  • Senate Judiciary Committee members have negotiated revisions to the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (SRCA) in response to criticism from members of the Senate Republican caucus. Members were concerned about provisions related to “violent offenders,” specifically firearms and retroactivity. The revisions are not yet public.
  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has indicated that he wants to see more Republican support before putting SRCA on the Senate floor. Last week, Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) signed on as cosponsors of the bill, and we are still pushing for support from Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss).
  • In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan is unlikely to move the House companion bills until the Senate acts. 

Act Now!

Help break the cycle of mass incarceration and hunger. Call (800/826-3688) or email your senators and ask them to support S. 2123, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015.

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