House to vote on childhood nutrition bill Wednesday

“We believe [the food-stamp cuts] goes against what we are trying to achieve here,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) in a conference call with reporters.

“Nonetheless, this legislation moves us forward,” said DeLauro, who chairs the Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee.

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The Senate bill, championed by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), expands eligibility for school meals programs, establishes nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools and provides a 6-cent increase for each school lunch to help cafeterias serve healthier meals.

Until recently, the House had been considering its own $8 billion version of the bill that did not include cuts to food-stamp funding. However, with the House facing a heavy workload in the lame-duck session, more than 1,100 groups signed a letter earlier this month urging House members to pass the Senate bill.

The groups said the reauthorization is a key tool in fighting childhood obesity, which has been one of first lady Michelle Obama’s major initiatives.

Earlier this month, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs had identified the childhood nutrition reauthorization as one of Democrats' top lame-duck priorities. Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) said he hopes the White House will work with Congress to restore food-stamp funding.

“The opportunity we have tomorrow to pass the bill is incredible,” McGovern said. “It’s an incredible bill. We need to get it done.”