FY16 Omnibus Appropriations Passed
After three short-term extensions of FY15 appropriations, Congress passed an FY16 Omnibus Appropriations bill to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year on Friday, December 18. A few highlights: the omnibus increases funding for Food for Peace and maternal and child health and nutrition, and continues funding to build long-term food security through Feed the Future at current levels. The Summer EBT program, which provides kids in the U.S. access to food when school is not in session, got an increase as well. Finally, the bill includes $2M for the Bill Emerson and Mickey Leland Hunger Fellows Programs.
The omnibus was accompanied by a tax bill that also included an important win: it makes permanent crucial improvements to two very effective anti-poverty programs, the earned income tax credit (EITC) and the child tax credit (CTC). These improvements were originally included in recovery legislation passed in response to the 2008 financial crisis; the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that “with these improvements, the EITC and CTC keep more children out of poverty than any other federal program, which would no longer be true if the improvements expired.”
New USAID Administrator Confirmed
On November 30, Gayle Smith was confirmed Administrator of USAID by the Senate by a vote of 79-7. CHC had advocated for her speedy confirmation, and we’re happy to know that USAID will have a permanent and knowledgeable Administrator for the last 14 months of the Obama Administration. Gayle was one of the founders of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN); effective, transparent and results-based development assistance are important to her.
Global Food Security Act Gaining Cosponsors
CHC, in coalition with advocacy partners, has continued to advocate cosponsorship for the Global Food Security Act (GFSA). As of today 114 House members have signed onto the bill (36 Rs, 78 Ds). The Senate version of GFSA still has 10 cosponsors (5 Rs, 5 Ds). There are promising signs for some movement in January.
Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act Passes House
The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 3766) passed the House by voice vote on Dec. 8. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), would require the President to establish and implement uniform monitoring and evaluation guidelines – with measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans – across U.S. international development programs and make the resulting data publicly available. The Senate companion bill (S. 2184), introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), has been unanimously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is waiting for a floor vote.
Child Nutrition Reauthorization Stuck on Meal Verification Requirements
One of the issues still being discussed involves increased verification requirements for students participating in school meal programs.
Enforced for ABAWDS*
Childless adults who aren’t able to find employment of at least 20 hours a week are now typically limited to just three months of SNAP benefits every three years. However, states have had the ability to waive the time limit in areas of the state with sustained high unemployment, and virtually every state has used that authority since the law’s passage. With unemployment declining, however, most states no longer qualify to waive the time limit for the entire state and now must re-impose the time limit in part or all of the state. In January 2016, about half the states will re-impose SNAP’s three month time for the first time since the recession, which will result in approximately one million low-income individuals losing SNAP over the course of 2016.
* Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependants