By Doug Davis, SNS, SNA Public Policy & Legislation Committee Chair 2017-01-05 04:37:36
Reauthorization: Looking Back & Looking Forward THE 114TH CONGRESS ADJOURNED DECEMBER 10, 2016, as lawmakers left Washington without passing a Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) bill. While the key House and Senate Committees had passed individual CNR bills, neither advanced to become law. Therefore, until the next Congress decides to take up a new CNR process, the rules established in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 remain in effect. Fortunately, language regarding flexibility for whole grains and sodium targets that had been included in the last two appropriations bills is maintained until a new spending bill is addressed, which should happen before April 28, 2017. SNA will continue to work to ensure grains and sodium flexibility is addressed. When the 115th Congress begins in January, we start from square one. First, the appropriate House and Senate Committees each draft, debate, amend and vote on individual bills. It’s hard to predict when CNR will be deemed a priority on Capitol Hill. In mid-November, I joined SNA President Becky Domokos-Bays, PhD, RD, SNS, and a small group of SNA leaders in a private meeting with Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). Sen. Roberts affirmed his commitment to working with SNA on solutions that would ensure strong, effective child nutrition programs. He also mentioned his stern opposition to block granting our programs. SNA is also reaching out to new House Education and the Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to arrange meetings. While we navigate the 2017 legislative landscape, there are a few things that SNA members can do right now. First, be on the lookout for an SNA survey about top priorities for school nutrition policy. Based on the responses to this survey, the Public Policy & Legislation Committee will craft the 2017 Legislative Position Paper in mid-February, which will chart the course for the Association’s advocacy efforts. Second, make plans now to attend SNA’s 45th Legislative Action Conference (LAC) in Washington, D.C. Scheduled a little later in the spring than usual (April 2-4), LAC will be your best opportunity to learn firsthand how the results of the 2016 election will impact our advocacy priorities and strategies. I’m looking forward to record attendance with many new and familiar faces ready to charge Capitol Hill and share our school nutrition stories. Registration is open! Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/lac for details. A SNEAK PEA K AT THE 115TH CONGRESS The 115th Congress will be sworn in on January 3, 2017. Over the next several weeks, Representatives and Senators will settle into their new Committee roles and choose the legislative staffers who will help them accomplish their policy goals. Here’s what we know at press time. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the current Speaker of the House of Representatives has confirmed that he will run for the position again. The House will vote in January. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will remain as Minority Leader of the Democrats in the House. Upon the retirement of Rep. John Kline, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) was selected as the new Chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) is expected to remain Ranking Member. Scott spoke out against block grants in school nutrition programs in June 2016. The House Agriculture Committee retains its current leadership: Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Chair, and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Ranking Member. Both have shown interest in beginning discussions on the 2018 Farm Bill early next year. This legislation authorizes funding for several farm and food programs. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was elected to continue his role as the Senate GOP leader. Upon the retirement of Sen. Harry Reid in 2016, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) was elected to lead the Senate Democrats. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) remains chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), well familiar with child nutrition issues, remains Ranking Member. The Senate Subcommittee on Nutrition, Specialty Crops and Agriculture Research will continue with leadership by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Chair, and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ranking Member. Hoeven was instrumental in securing some flexibility for whole grains and sodium requirements in the Senate CNR bill.
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