Washington Update: Week of October 3

Washington Update

Child Nutrition Reauthorization

  • The Senate went on recess last week without passing a child nutrition bill. Efforts to bring up and pass the bill by unanimous consent would face some challenges.
  • The bill has strong support among anti-hunger, nutrition, and faith groups. However, powerful teachers’ unions and superintendents are concerned that it would inadvertently kick eligible children out of the national school lunch and breakfast programs while creating more administrative burdens.
  • The office of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has indicated it is looking at the bill to see how policy changes would impact students, but some speculate the bill could be held up for political reasons as well because of the looming election. 

Budget & Appropriations

  • Last week, Congress passed a stopgap spending bill (a continuing resolution or CR) that will continue to fund the government until Dec. 9 and provided $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus (Background: The federal government’s fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, which is usually the deadline for Congress to pass a budget for the new fiscal year – for FY 2017).
  • The spending bill mandates that the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies receiving the emergency Zika funding will need to obligate the money before the end of FY 2017.
  • $109 million of this package comes from re-appropriated Ebola funds that were provided through State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bilateral assistance under the FY 2015 appropriations law.
  • When Congress returns in November, its priority will be passing a budget. Congressional leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are pushing for small “mini-bus” spending bills instead of one large omnibus.

Criminal Justice Reform

  • Congress also left town last week without passing any criminal justice reform legislation. House Speaker Paul Ryan is still indicating that he wants a vote in the lame duck session, but Sen. Mitch McConnell has said that he does not believe the Senate will have time then to take on criminal justice reform.
  • Bread is still meeting with the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition to determine next steps.

Act Now!

Watch the vice presidential debate tonight at 9:00 p.m. (EDT). While you watch, play debate bingo with Bread for the World’s hunger bingo cards. Live tweet during the event using #IVote2EndHunger.

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