A federal program designed to provide meals to low-income children during the summer when school lunches are unavailable is to be suspended after June 30. Now Congress is making a last-minute push to prevent that from happening.
Lawmakers are aiming to leave Washington for a two-week Fourth of July holiday break, a break likely to jump-start a bipartisan gun-safety deal struck in the wake of the Uvalda, Texas, and Buffalo, New York mass shootings. month.
But that same atmosphere of the last week of school could also help or potentially kill the deal so that the summer meal program doesn’t serve fewer kids, at least through the fall.
“We have a bipartisan bill. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Maryland)told reporters on Wednesday the second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives.
He said it could be brought before the House of Representatives as early as Thursday and that he hopes to move it through the process used for non-controversial bills, but which requires a two-thirds majority to pass.
If action is not taken, many children – “millions” according to the House of Representatives panel – will face restricted access to food if more restrictive conditions and eligibility requirements are put in place. Some food outlets will have to close, the ability to take away food will disappear, and parents will have to fill out eligibility paperwork, which has largely disappeared during the pandemic.
Tighter conditions will return as the exclusions expire on June 30th. The expiration date was extended in 2021 in the public funding bill, but another extension that could have been included in the funding bill in March was dropped due to cost concerns. and expand again what opponents say were supposed to be temporary measures to combat the pandemic.
But late Tuesday night, with the impending deadline and recess in mind, Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee and House Education and Labor Committee said they had reached an agreement on another extension and found a way to pay for it using unspent COVID money.
“While the country is on the path to recovery, many schools are still struggling with supply chain shortages and other increased costs that will make it harder to serve food next year. This bill provides additional assistance so students can get the nutrition they need to learn and grow,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (R-Virginia), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.
“This budget-neutral legislation will also put our country’s school feeding programs back on track and prevent the persistent pandemic narrative from being used to expand school feeding programs beyond their intended purpose,” said Rep. Virginia Fox (NC), Chief-Rating Republican on panel.
It’s unclear exactly how many children will be affected by the expiration of the release, but House Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee number in the millions.
The deal can still be canceled due to the intransigence of the Senate. As senators race to leave the city, any senator opposed to the deal could force a delay on the renewal bill by postponing the vote until the end of the week, when many lawmakers want to go home.
As well as Politico reported at least one Republican.Senator Roger Marshall (Canada) threatened to delay the deal due to directives from the Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, to ban discrimination based on LGBTQ status in food programs that receive federal dollars, which includes most school lunch programs.
However, Hoyer was optimistic. “He has a broad, broad consensus, this denial from now until September 30,” he said.