Takeaways From the Omnibus

05/09/2017 - Every year, Congress must pass bills that appropriate money for all discretionary government spending. (Mandatory funding like Medicare and Social Security are not included in this process)

One bill is passed for each sub-committee of the 12 subcommittees in the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Appropriations. This is why members of Congress on the Appropriations Committee are so important after a bill becomes law. They make sure there is money to fund the bill.

The Academy is most interested in Agriculture and Health and Human Services bills, which fund the majority of nutrition services and programs.

When Congress does not or cannot produce separate bills in a timely fashion, it combines the separate appropriations bills into one omnibus spending bill, which is what happened this week.

The fiscal year of the United States is the 12-month period beginning on October 1 and ending on September 30 of the next calendar year. When this date passes Congress passes an extension called a continuing resolution.

  • This year a bill was not passed to fund the government for the full year. A continuing resolution was passed to keep the government open and the conversation in Congress going, which was set to expire on March 5, 2017.
  • On March 4, 2017, Congress passed H.R. 244, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017.

Key Takeaways

  • Overall the Academy's priorities fared well in the 2017 federal omnibus appropriations bill.
  • For our public health, diabetes and SCAN members-the Prevention and Public Health Fund was allocated to fund critical public health and wellness initiatives in states that work to address heart disease, stroke and diabetes, among other concerns.
  • For our nutrition educators, there was an expected slight increase in SNAP-Ed funding.
  • For our members working with older adults, congregate and home delivered meals funding was increased.
  • For our school meals directors funding to purchase food service equipment, but a little less than last year.
  • For our researchers, both NIH (National Institute of Health) and NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture) received increased funding.
    • At NIH, every Institute and Center received a funding increase to "continue investments in research that will save lives, lead to new drug and device development, reduce health care costs, and improve the lives of all Americans."

Agriculture, Rural Development and FDA

Key Provisions for Nutrition Services and Programs

  • The bill provides $2.63 billion for food and agriculture research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
  • Child Nutrition Programs including School Meals programs are fully funded as a mandatory program.
  • $23 million for the summer EBT program, which is $2 million more than the House bill and the same as the 2016 enacted level.
  • School Nutrition Directors will have a decrease of $5 million dollars to a total of $25 million for the year for Kitchen Equipment grants and loans.
  • WIC funding is $6.35 billion, which will meet case loads.
  • $60 Million for breastfeeding peer counseling.
  • SNAP-Ed funding increased to $411 million.
  • Food safety outreach program for implementation of Food Safety Modernization Act is increased by $35.7 million.
  • Food for Peace program receives $1.6 billion and additional $300 million for famine relief.
  • Farm grants for veterans funded at $5 million.
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program training funded at $23 million.
  • Team Nutrition and Healthier U.S. School Challenge grant steady funding at $17 million.
  • Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which provides funding options to grocery stores to build in food deserts, funded at $1 million.

Labor, Education, Health and Human Services

Key Provisions for Nutrition Services and Programs

  • The National Institutes of Health:
    • Total funding of $34 billion, an increase of $2 billion, to go towards programs including a $50 million increase for antibiotic resistance research, and a $120 million increase for the Precision Medicine Initiative.
    • NIDDK: $2.02 bill, an increase of $52 million, which includes the Special Diabetes Program funding.
  • Administration on Children and Families
    • Head Start: an increase of $85 million to include a cost-of-living adjustment.
  • Administration on Community Living:
    • The Older Americans Act IIIC Nutrition Programs, specifically congregate and home delivered, got a $3 million increase.
    • The Commodity Supplemental Food Program received a $12.9 million increase.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
    • Maintained level funding for several programs:
      • Million Hearts Initiative at $4 million.
      • Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program at $50.9 million, which is now run by the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. This also includes $16 million for the Good Health and Wellness in Indian County program at CDC.
      • High Obesity Rate Counties grant program at $10 million.
      • Preventive Health & Health Services Block grant at $160 million.
      • Hospitals promoting breastfeeding initiative at $8 million.
      • Prevention Research Centers at $25.5 million.
    • Increase of $2.5 million for the National Diabetes Prevention Program, with an emphasis on supporting rural providers.
    • Increase of $2 million for the CDC’s Food Safety programs.
  • Health Resources and Services Administration:
    • Increase in the Maternal & Child Health Block Grant of $3.5 million, to $641.7 million.
    • Maintained level for Ryan White Part B programs of $1.3 billion, although there was a $4 million decrease to the Early Intervention Program.
    • Maintained level funding of $1.49 billion for Community Health Centers which serve 21.1 million patients per year.
    • Provides $65.5 million for rural health outreach grants, $2 million to support collaboration with the Delta Regional Authority, and $1.5 million for telehealth grants.

Policy Riders

A rider is added to a bill under the consideration by Congress and has little connection with the subject matter of the bill. Riders are usually created as a tactic to pass a controversial provision that would not pass as its own bill.

School Lunch

Schools are allowed to obtain waivers for whole grain-rich products that are hard to find or expensive.

Current sodium target in place, with no advancement to the next sodium target, for the coming school year.

FDA Voluntary Sodium Targets

No final guidance applicable to food manufacturers for long term population-wide sodium reduction actions, the voluntary sodium targets, until the date on which a dietary reference intake report with respect to sodium is completed.

SNAP Retailer Stocking Standards

No funding must go to enforce the increased variety of product for SNAP retailers, as required by the 2014 Farm Bill and recent USDA rule.