- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Global Food Security Act of 2016 by voice vote last week. There was no vocal opposition to the bill during the hearing.
- We are hopeful that the bill can come to a vote in the Senate soon, perhaps at the beginning of April.
- Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) are now co-sponsors of the bill.
- The version that passed the Foreign Relations Committee authorizes the continued use of the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account to respond to emergency food needs by creating the Emergency Food Response Fund. This fund supports the continued use of response tools, such as cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement, to meet the needs of communities effected by human-caused or natural disasters in places like Syria, Yemen, and Nepal. Bread has long argued for more flexibility to use these types of tools. These types of food assistance are used when USAID’s in-kind food aid cannot arrive in time or other forms of assistance are more appropriate due to local market conditions. The program reinforces market linkages in recipient and neighboring countries and can often reach more people faster, more efficiently, and can provide more nutritious value. The bill also maintains IDA’s existing flexibility to ensure the U.S. government can respond appropriately to the challenging and changing needs of vulnerable people affected by disasters. Bread supports this addition.
- We still expect the bill to be filed in the House soon. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is still hoping the bill will pass under suspension of the rules, meaning there will be fewer obstacles to the bill passing once it comes to the floor for a vote. The Foreign Affairs Committee is close to agreeing on a final text with the House Agriculture Committee. It seems this may take a while longer.
- There are still 121 co-sponsors in the House. GFSA is still open to co-sponsors until the bill is filed. Bread is particularly targeting Illinois Reps. Darin LaHood (18th) and Peter Roskam (6th) to complete the state’s delegation on co-sponsorship of the bill.
- We continue to wait for the Senate to bring the bill passed by the Agriculture Committee to the floor for a vote and for the House to move forward on possibly introducing its own bill.
- The Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2015 (H.R.2715/S.1539, the Summer EBT bill) has 2 new co-sponsors in the House (Reps. Matt Cartwright [D-Pa.] and John Lewis [D-Ga.]) for a total of 71 cosponsors. The Senate version has 11 total cosponsors. View the full list.
- The Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S.613/H.R.1728, to strengthen summer meals programs) has no new cosponsors this week but a total 87 cosponsors in the House and 19 in the Senate. View the full list.
- The House Budget Committee could mark up a fiscal year 2017 budget resolution tomorrow. If so, we could see text of the resolution as early as today. However, conservatives are pressuring budget committee chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) to draft a budget resolution that goes below the $1.07 trillion spending cap agreed to in the bipartisan budget deal last year, which could impact the timing of a resolution.
- Members of the House Freedom Caucus are pushing for a budget resolution that reflects the originally lower spending cap of $1.04 trillion, a $30 billion difference. Still, two key committees this week are considering bills aimed at cutting entitlement programs by at least $30 billion over 2 years. The Energy and Commerce committee is considering legislation that would cut health care spending. The House Ways and Means Committee is considering a package of bills, including one that would reduce eligibility for the refundable portion of the child tax credit.
- There are now bipartisan Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and Nutrition letters to appropriators in both the House and Senate in support of robust funding for life-saving programs for women and children globally in FY 2017. The Senate letter is led by Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
- The MCH and nutrition community, including Bread, is reaching out to offices to sign on to this letter by tomorrow, particularly previous champions and Republicans in the House. At last count, there were 82 signers in the House (the goal is 128) and 12 in the Senate (the goal is 28). See the Act Now at the bottom of this email for action you can take.
- Last week, 129 members of Congress, led by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Alma Adams (D-N.C.), sent a letter to House and Budget Committee leadership urging them to protect the integrity of SNAP in the budget process. The letter expressed concerns about turning SNAP into a block grant, which would undermine the program’s ability to respond to need in times of economic downturns or natural disaster.
- The release of the letter follows a recent press conference hosted by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) along with Democratic leadership and other senior Democrats in the House urging bipartisan action to address poverty.
- And last month, Republican leadership announced a taskforce on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility made up of Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), and Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas). While the goal of the task force is to “strengthen our safety net and reform educational programs to make them more effective and accountable, help people move from welfare to work, and empower productive lives,” House Democrats pointed out that many of these members have historically fought to cut programs that address poverty.
- Last week Bread also signed on to a letter signed by over 250 organizations representing various sectors with an interest in the farm bill urging Congress to oppose cuts to agriculture committee programs in the budget process.
Call (800/826-3688) or email your members of Congress today. Urge them to sign a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter. There are bipartisan Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition letters in both the House and the Senate. These letters express support for robust funding for life-saving programs for women and children globally for the next fiscal year.
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