White House hits GOP over school lunches

The White House blasted House Republicans after the Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill that loosens nutrition standards on school lunches promoted by first lady Michelle Obama.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said lawmakers had "moved forward with a provision that replaces the judgment of doctors and nutritionists with the opinions of politicians regarding what is healthy for our kids."

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"These are the same people who just last year declared pizza as a vegetable and who now think that decisions about kids' health should be made by politicians instead of pediatricians," Carney continued.

"As the first lady said on Tuesday, the last thing that we can afford to do right now is play politics with our kids' health, especially when we're finally starting to see some progress on this issue," he added.

The bill, which would allow schools that have lost money over six months on their lunch programs to opt out of tougher sodium, fruit and vegetable requirements, advanced on a 31-18 roll call vote.

The first lady aggressively sought to rally votes against the wavier, including with a column in The New York Times published late Wednesday night.

In the piece, Obama encouraged parents to “put our children’s interests first.” 

“We wake up every morning and go to bed every night worrying about their well-being and their futures,” Obama said. “And when we make decisions about our kids’ health, we rely on doctors and experts who can give us accurate information based on sound science.

“Our leaders in Washington should do the same,” she said.

Earlier in the week, Obama told a group of school nutritionists at the White House that the GOP-led effort to allow schools to opt out of nutrition standards was "unacceptable." She also held a call with advocacy groups to rally their support for the tougher standards.