Washington Update: Week of September 19

Washington Update

The weekly Washington Update here on the blog is available by email, sent to subscribers under the name of Fresh Bread.

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Child Nutrition Reauthorization

  • The Senate could consider its child nutrition bill as early as this week. (This issue was focus of Bread’s 2015 Offering of Letters, but Congress did not finish its work last year and reauthorize child nutrition programs.)
  • The bill, S. 3136, was voted out of the Senate Agriculture Committee earlier this year in January but was stalled when the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would add $1.1 billion to the deficit over 10 years. The committee’s staff has been working to make technical adjustments to the bill to ensure it is budget-neutral.
  • Last week, the Senate began working toward bringing the bill to the floor. If the bill is brought to the floor this week, we expect it to pass by unanimous consent.

Budget & Appropriations

  • The Senate failed to move on a continuing resolution (CR) last week, causing negotiations to continue into this week. (Background: Congress has until Sept. 30, the end of fiscal year 2016, before the government runs out of money. A CR is a way to keep the government open and running beyond this date, until a full-fledged budget can be decided upon.)
  • Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has adamantly opposed any temporary government funding deal that will last longer than 3 months. Democratic and Republican appropriators have also been opposed to an extended CR.
  • Members are likely to vote on a stop-gap measure this week so they can adjourn early and get back to the campaign trail.
  • So far, 26 organizations have signed on to Bread’s community letter to appropriators on increasing global nutrition funding (the request of the 2016 Offering of Letters) during any appropriations conference this fall. The letter will be sent by next week to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.); Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.); Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.); Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY); and also Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas); Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

Criminal Justice Reform

  • Last week, Bread for the World and its partners led a campaign to push for a vote on the House floor on criminal justice reform legislation. Through the campaign, Bread generated over 1,300 phone calls and emails to House offices and met with a number of Republican offices. Offices we met with indicated that they are still gathering information on the issue and the bills that are being considered. House Republican leaders also conducted meetings with rank-and-file members to get a better idea of whether or not there is support from the party on the issue.
  • However, despite our efforts, it seems that the window of opportunity for passing reform legislation before the House adjourns has closed. Conversations with the House and Senate have confirmed that there will not be a vote before the elections. Many offices are still reluctant to make any difficult votes prior to November. Bread and its coalition partners are continuing its push for criminal justice reform, but the timing for any vote will have to be during the lame duck session of Congress (between the election and the seating of the new Congress in January). 

Act Now!

Urge Congress, as it finalizes funding for next year, to support an increase in funding for international nutrition programs for mothers and children in the State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill’s global health account.

And “homework” for this week:

  • Watch the first presidential debate on Monday, Sept. 26 at 9:00 p.m. (EDT) on any of the major networks, cable news channels, or online. Have fun while watching by playing Bread’s Presidential Bingo that will soon be released (watch for an announcement of its availability on our Facebook or Twitter pages or on Bread Blog)! Live tweet during the debate using #IVote2EndHunger and our social media kit.
  • Read Bread’s news article on the new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau showing that the poverty rate dropped from 14.8 percent in 2014 to 13.5 percent in 2015 (latest figures available).
  • Download Bread’s new fact sheet on the recently released hunger data. These figures help drive Bread’s legislative work in Congress.

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