Returning from their Independence Day recess, we expect Congress to have a busy July before leaving for their annual August recess. Here are a few things we’ll be keeping our eye on this month:
Responding to the Crisis at the Border
Before leaving for their July recess, Congress passed emergency border funding. Since then reports have described unsafe and unsanitary conditions at facilities housing migrant children and adults: women held in rooms without clean drinking water, pregnant women without access to prenatal services, children without access to toothbrushes or soap and many people hungry and in need of health care. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General reported they found dangerous overcrowding among other serious issues. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has announced hearings on the Administration’s repose to this crisis. 1,000 Days urges the Administration and Congress to immediately address this crisis and ensure the safety, nutrition, healthcare and other essential needs of migrant children and their families.
Progress on Child Nutrition Reauthorization
Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) has again signaled that he wants to move legislation to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, providing an opportunity to strengthen programs that serve moms, babies and young children such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). 1,000 Days will continue to engage Congressional staff and key partners to ensure the nutrition of young children is a national priority.
Recognizing the importance of global maternal and child nutrition
Improving the health and nutrition of women and children around the world is getting increased attention in both the House and Senate. Representatives Roger Marshall (R-KS) and James McGovern (D-MA) and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have introduced resolutions recognizing the importance of continued U.S. leadership to accelerate progress ending maternal and child malnutrition around the world. In addition, Senators Collins and Coons have also introduced the Reach Every Mother and Child Act to strengthen U.S. efforts to end preventable maternal and child deaths in developing countries. We appreciate Members’ leadership on these issues, and we will continue encouraging their colleagues to join them as co-sponsors.
Momentum is building for Paid Family and Medical Leave
On both sides of the U.S. Capital, Members are looking more closely at the issue of paid leave. This week, the House voted to add an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (H.R. 2500) providing paid family and medical leave for federal workers. In Senate, leaders have formed a bipartisan working group to examine the issue. 1,000 Days will continue to urge Members of Congress to support paid leave for all workers, while also lifting up the voices and stories of our moms and their families to show the real-world impact of having or not having access to paid leave.
Next steps on Appropriations
The House of Representatives has passed 10 of the 12 bills needed to fund the federal government after September. Many of the programs supporting pregnant women, parents and their children in the United States and around the world saw at least level funding or were increased, including:
- USAID’s Nutrition: $145 million (level funding)
- CDC’s Hospitals Promoting Breastfeeding: $10 million ($2 million increase)
- WIC’s Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program: $90 million ($30 million increase)
While we are encouraged by the House’s action, it is unclear what will happen in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KS) has indicated he wants the Senate’s appropriations markups to wait to until a budget agreement is reached among the White House, Senate and House. Without an agreement to raise the budget caps for FY 2020, many programs that support access to health and nutrition services for young children and families will face steep, automatic cuts. 1,000 Days will continue to keep a close watch on these budget negotiations and the impact to the programs that serve moms and young children.