Both the House and Senate have started the process of considering Appropriations Bills, including the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Bill. This bill includes nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC).
On June 14th, the full House Appropriations Committee met to markup their agricultural bill which was passed 33-27 following partisan voting lines. The bill included an $800 million cut from the President’s Budget request which reduces WIC food benefits by more than 12% overall. This includes a reduction for fruits and vegetables for 1–4-year-olds dropping from $25 to $11 per month and breastfeeding participants from $49 to $15 per month. The cuts come with the thought process to avoid putting people on waiting lists and reducing benefits to all those eligible. On July 22nd, by comparison, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a unanimous 28-0 vote to approve the FY24 agricultural bill that allocates $25.993 billion in discretionary funds. The Senate bill includes $6.3 billion for WIC and fully funds both the SNAP and the Child Nutrition Programs to ensure schools can serve healthy meals. The bill also allocates funds to the FDA to assist in family safety and food safety and other areas such as rural development, agricultural research, and international food aid.
Both bills will now go to their respective floors for a full chamber vote before being sent to a joint House and Senate Appropriations Conference Committee to be reviewed and finalized. Once the conference committee is concluded, the bills will go back to the House and Senate again for a vote and finally off to President Biden. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) offered some insight that many hope is carried through the appropriations process moving forward in their respective committees: “We can’t have strong communities if families can’t put food on the table or kids go hungry—that’s as important as it is obvious. So we have put forward a serious, bipartisan bill that will help prevent families from going hungry and support farmers all across the country.”
By Chris Bennett, Policy Associate