Reid wants child nutrition bill before recess

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said this week that Democrats are hoping to pass a child nutrition bill before lawmakers leave town for the August recess. 

The $4.5 billion proposal, sponsored by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), would expand eligibility for school meal programs; establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools; and provide a 6-cent increase for each school lunch to help cafeterias serve healthier meals.

It’s a much smaller expansion than the $10 billion proposal endorsed by the White House earlier in the year, but it would mark the first non-inflationary hike in school-lunch reimbursements in almost four decades.

Lincoln’s bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Agriculture Committee in March, and Reid says he’s hopeful he can rally the bipartisan support he’ll need to push it through the upper chamber in the next week and a half.

“It would be nice if we could do something with child nutrition — we’re going to try to do that,” Reid told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday. “I’m told that that could be bipartisan.”

House lawmakers are pushing the issue as well. Earlier this month, the House Education and Labor Committee sent an $8 billion child nutrition bill to the floor. 

Reid said he also wants to move food safety legislation before the August break.