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NCIT Federal Policy Update

Potential Government Shutdown

Funding for agencies, programs, and activities in four appropriations bills—including Agriculture-FDA (which includes funding for WIC)—expires March 1. The remaining eight appropriations bills—including the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor-HHS) bill (which includes funding for Early Head Start, maternal and child health block grant, and other PN-3 priorities)—expires on March 8. Congress is on recess, but appropriations and leadership staff are working to negotiate the legislation. There is bipartisan agreement on the allocations for the subcommittees; however, there is no agreement on how to handle policy riders, such as the restrictive SNAP-choice rider. We are keeping a close eye on the progress. Check back at ncit.org for updates.

WIC’s Future Tied to Harmful Rider

Last Friday, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and FDA, linked a rider on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to a much-needed increase in funding for WIC. To recap, both House and Senate funding proposals for WIC in 2024 fall short of current and projected needs, risking the exclusion of up to two million participants, and the House bill contains several negative riders that would be detrimental to access to healthy, nutritious foods. The rider Harris tied to WIC proposes pilots that would restrict foods SNAP beneficiaries can purchase.

This rider ostensibly aims to promote healthier eating by restricting SNAP purchases to "nutrient-dense" foods per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; however, it lacks any safeguards for beneficiaries such as protecting the underlying benefit and access to the program, assuring efforts to not increase stigma, and offsetting the cost of healthier foods, among others. These are the kinds of safeguards NCIT has championed when discussing pilots within the farm bill to look at ways to increase nutrition security and use the purchasing power of SNAP to improve the retail food environment.

The NCIT continues to urge lawmakers to include full funding for WIC and to oppose any new riders that make it more difficult for vulnerable people to eat healthy, including this SNAP choice rider and the cheese carve-out rider for school meals.

Child Tax Credit Update

On Wednesday night, the House of Representatives voted 357-70 to pass the bipartisan Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act, a deal between House Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith (R-MO) and Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR). Among other provisions, the bill proposes gradually increasing the child tax credit (CTC) from $1,600 to $2,000 by 2025, with adjustments for inflation in future years. Estimates suggest the CTC expansion will benefit 16 million children, including 3 million infants and toddlers, and could lift half-a-million children above the poverty line by 2025. The bill now moves on to the Senate, where a slow road is ahead. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) has expressed concerns about the package and specifically, the CTC expansion. He would prefer to add work requirements. Some other Republicans are similarly skeptical of the package, expressing concern about giving President Joe Biden “a win” in a tight election year.

 

Updated 2/26/2024

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