What Happened in D.C. at Year's End?
Happy New Year!
We know that you - our supporters – are as concerned as we are about the impact our leaders’ decisions have on hungry people nationwide. We thought you’d appreciate an inside look into what transpired in Washington, D.C. in the year gone by and what we anticipate in the year to come.
Old Congress: Old Arguments and New Precedents
The 113th Congress yielded a largely unproductive and disappointing session, although the passing of a 5-year Farm Bill represented a relative victory and an exceedingly rare example of bipartisan cooperation. Though the bill did include cuts to SNAP, the program would almost certainly have fared far worse if the Farm Bill were to be negotiated in the new Congress. Moreover, the final days ended with a bit of flurry and drama, as Congress narrowly passed the “cromnibus” spending bill to keep most of the federal government running through the end of this fiscal year. (It is a sad commentary on the performance of Congress when avoiding yet another government shutdown provides reason for celebration.) The cromnibus was relatively good news for domestic nutrition programs, with adequate funding or even modest increases for vital programs (see infographic below). That said, the bill also included a few disconcerting policy riders, which set a dangerous precedent of Congress acting against the recommendations of medical and scientific experts with regard to nutrition-related issues.
New Congress: Old Arguments with New Approaches
It is pretty clear that the change in majority leadership of the Senate and new Members in the House of Representatives will generate a vastly different dynamic in the 114th Congress. With these changes in composition and leadership will come worrisome challenges that threaten the integrity and funding of federal safety net programs including SNAP and child nutrition programs. Incoming Congressional leadership have already signaled that they plan to use the budget process to advance this agenda. It is critical for advocates to educate newly elected Members of Congress about the breadth and severity of food insecurity in this country and the vital role that federal safety net programs play in providing assistance to individuals and families working to pull themselves out of poverty.
Later this week, the 114th Congress will be sworn in. Although, we cannot predict with certainty what its priorities and approaches will be, we do anticipate the challenges to safety net programs to be substantial. MAZON will, as always, be vigilant in our effort to impact policies that affect the most vulnerable among us and to shine a light on issues that remain overlooked, including:
- protecting and strengthening key programs in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization process
- maintaining and improving SNAP and other effective anti-hunger programs
- ending the unacceptably high rates of food insecurity among veterans and military families
- reauthorizing programs that provide vital nutrition assistance for seniors
- identifying and supporting solutions for the unique challenges experienced in rural, remote and tribal communities
- identifying archaic state-level barriers to assistance and organizing efforts to remove those barriers
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