House Cuts Do More Funding Damage than First Assumed!

Washington, DC, 20 June 2011 – The 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill (H.R. 2112) approved by the full House in contentious floor debate last week by a vote of 217-203 does more funding damage to the WIC Program’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget than previously thought! House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Staff advised NWA late Friday night of the further reduction in funding.

Here’s what happened!

  • When the bill left the House Committee on Appropriations Tuesday 31 May, an amendment by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, had increased funding for the Program from $5.901 billion (the House Agriculture Appropriation Subcommittee’s markup funding level set the previous week) by $148 million to $6.048 billion.
  • But Republican lawmakers opposed DeLauro’s amendment on the floor of the House which offset the increase to WIC by reducing funding to the Brazilian Cotton Institute. Lawmakers then voted to cut the funding from the Cotton Institute. This left WIC funding at $5.901 billion again.
  • The floor manager for the bill, Rep. Jack Kingston, R-GA, Chair of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, assured Rep. DeLauro and Democrats who had opposed the rollback that he would restore the $147 million included in her amendment to WIC.
  • To accomplish this, he offered an amendment that cut all of the Programs in the first six titles of the bill – everything from agriculture and conservation programs, to rural development, domestic nutrition and food programs, to foreign assistance and related programs, and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) – by 0.78%.
  • This left WIC funded at $6.00 billion, barely above the Subcommittee’s markup level of $5.901 billion and hardly the bump back up to $6.048 approved by the full Committee.
  • The bottom line: a cut of $733 million off of Fiscal Year 2011 funding of $6.734 billion and a potential loss of 300,000-700,000 moms and young children from the Program’s benefits!

Earlier in the day, with the help of NWA members and the breastfeeding community, the House voted 119-306 (click here for a PDF of the Roll Call Vote) to reject an amendment by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-NC, to cut $82.5 million in funding for breastfeeding peer counselors and performance bonuses! The House also voted to reject by a vote of 64-360, an amendment by Rep. Paul Broun, R-GA, to cut $604 million from WIC.

These cuts are bad news not only for WIC, but all of the nutrition, agriculture, conservation, and foreign assistance programs and the FDA that have taken a broad-side in the name of deficit reduction and political ideology.

At the end of the day, these cuts, but particularly the WIC and nutrition funding cuts, will damage the nation’s public health nutrition infrastructure, result in challenging nutrition consequences for hundreds of thousands of mothers, children, and families, have long-term negative health consequences, hurt rural and urban communities alike, and hurt small businesses and family farmers. These cuts will cost jobs! None of this makes any sense for an economy that is struggling to find its feet or for families who are caught in endless cycles of frustration, desperation, even hunger as they try to make ends meet!

The final bill does include $14 million in funding for infrastructure, $75 million for breastfeeding peer counselors and related activities (NWA proposed $80 million) including $7.5 million for breastfeeding performance bonuses (NWA proposed $10 million), and $50 million for management information systems/EBT development (NWA proposed $60 million).

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