Congress Has Just Days To Extend A Crucial School Summer Lunch Program

A federal program intended to make sure low-income children are nonetheless fed in the summertime when college lunches aren’t to be had is ready to be hobbled after June 30. Now Congress is creating a last-minute sprint to stay that from going down.

Lawmakers are craving to get out of Washington for a two-week Fourth of July vacation spoil, a recess most probably to offer momentum to a bipartisan gun protection deal made within the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, mass shootings final month.

But that very same last-week-of-school setting might also lend a hand, or doubtlessly kill, a deal to stay the summer time meal program from serving fewer children a minimum of into the autumn.

“We have a bipartisan bill,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.), the second-ranking Democrat within the House, informed journalists Wednesday.

He stated that it will come to the House ground as early as Thursday and that he was hoping to deliver it up underneath a procedure used for non-controversial expenses however which calls for a two-thirds majority for passage.

Without motion, many children — a House panel estimated “millions” — would face diminished get entry to to meals if there are extra restrictive prerequisites and eligibility necessities. Some meal websites must shut, the power to pick out up foods to move would finish and oldsters could be required to fill out eligibility forms that in large part disappeared all over the pandemic.

The tightened prerequisites would go back as a result of waivers are set to run out June 30. The waivers were prolonged in 2021 in a central authority investment invoice however every other extension, which can have been incorporated in a investment invoice in March, was once neglected amid considerations over the price and lengthening once more what warring parties stated had been intended to be brief pandemic measures.

But past due Tuesday, aware of the looming time limit and the recess, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee stated they’d reached settlement on every other extension and located a solution to pay for it, the usage of unspent COVID cash.

“While the country is on the road to recovery, many schools are still struggling with supply chain shortages and other increased costs that will make it more difficult to serve meals next year. This bill provides additional assistance to ensure that students can get the nutrition they need to help them learn and grow,” stated Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), chair of the House Education and Labor Committee.

“This budget-neutral legislation will also put our country’s school nutrition programs back on the right track and keep the permanent pandemic narrative from being used to expand school meal programs beyond their intended purpose,” stated Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.), the top-ranking Republican at the panel.

It’s unclear precisely what number of youngsters could be suffering from the expiration of the waivers, however House Democrats at the Education and Labor Committee put it within the tens of millions.

The deal may nonetheless be undone by way of intransigence within the Senate. With senators champing on the bit to depart the city, any senator opposing the deal may drive a drawn-out attention of the extension invoice, delaying a vote till past due within the week when many lawmakers will need to be on their approach house.

And Politico reported a minimum of one Republican, Sen. Roger Marshall (Kan.), was once threatening to carry up the deal over steering from the Agriculture Department, which administers this system, banning discrimination over LGBTQ standing in meals techniques that get federal bucks, which contains most faculty lunch techniques.

Hoyer, even though, was once positive. “It has broad, broad agreement, this waiver between now and Sept. 30,” he stated.

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