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CQ Roll Call | House Spending Panel Backs Bill With Cuts to Nutrition Program, CFTC

June 13, 2013
In The News

House Spending Panel Backs Bill With Cuts to Nutrition Program, CFTC
By Tait Militana | CQ Roll Call | June 13, 2013



House appropriators on Thursday advanced legislation that would cut a nutrition program for women and infants by $214 million and trim funding for a regulatory agency charged with overseeing the over-the-counter derivatives market.

The Appropriations Committee gave voice vote approval to an amended draft fiscal 2014 spending bill that would provide $19.5 billion in discretionary funding for the Agriculture Department, the Food and Drug Administration and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The spending level is $1.3 billion less than fiscal 2013 levels, about even with current sequester-reduced levels and $516 million below the president’s request.

“As we have done and will do with each and every bill this year, we made some serious cuts to the programs in this bill to reduce spending, eliminate waste and lower our debt,” said panel Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky.

But Democrats vehemently opposed provisions in the bill that would fund the CFTC at $195 million, which is about in line with the agency’s sequester-level funding but is $10 million below fiscal 2013 levels.

In his fiscal 2014 budget blueprint, President Obama sought $315 million for the program.

Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., led a spirited charge against the bill’s language, saying the committee’s levels would “license more risk-taking.”

The committee rejected her amendment to fully fund the commission at the Obama administration’s level.

Democrats insisted that the commission, which is tasked with providing oversight to the complicated derivatives market, is needed to ensure that the mistakes of the 2008 financial collapse aren’t repeated.

“We made a first-responder for the commodity crisis, and we are not hiring the responders,” said Sam Farr of California.

But Alabama Republican Robert B. Aderholt noted that without an offset, the amendment would lead to an across-the-board cut for all programs in the bill under spending limits passed in the 2011 debt law (PL 112-25).

The panel also touched on the heated debate surrounding the bill’s $6.7 billion funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, which provides nutrition support for pregnant  women, nursing mothers and babies. The level is $214 million below the fiscal 2013 enacted level and $487 million below the president’s request.

The committee rejected a DeLauro amendment to fund a breast-feeding peer counselor program at $60 million, with Republicans saying they support breast-feeding-awareness efforts but could not back the language without corresponding spending reductions elsewhere.

DeLauro noted that the program would reduce incidents of acute and chronic diseases and said that cutting the program was “short-sighted.”

Farr said WIC funding would save the country in future health costs as infant participants received the nutrition they needed to live healthy lives as adults. He said he expects more amendments on the program when the measure reaches the House floor.

Food Policy

The underlying bill would appropriate $1.15 billion for Food for Peace grants, $284 million below fiscal 2013 levels, and it would reject the Obama administration’s request to move the program to the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of a proposal to purchase more food locally during international disasters.

It would boost funding for the Food and Drug Administration by $24 million above fiscal 2013 levels and reduce spending by $31 million on food safety and inspection programs, which fund meat, poultry and egg inspections.

Other discussion Thursday segued into food policy, including some programs debated in the five-year farm bill (HR 1947) expected to be considered in the House later this month.

Pennsylvania Republican Charlie Dent briefly reopened debate on sugar policy from a May farm bill markup, with his amendment that would limit loan rates for sugar cane and sugar beet processors, but he ultimately withdrew the language after panel members protested that it should be made on the farm measure.

The panel also adopted by voice vote an amendment from James P. Moran, D-Va., that would seek to prevent the slaughtering of horses for food by blocking funding on horse meat inspectors.

Moran noted that much of the slaughtered horse would be for export because most Americans don’t eat it. “Do we really want to cut the money for the food safety service, then require them to inspect horse meat?” he said.

Senate Agriculture appropriators will mark up their version of the spending bill next week, with a full committee markup scheduled for June 20.