Overnight Regulation: Trump rolling back Michelle Obama's school lunch rules

Overnight Regulation: Trump rolling back Michelle Obama's school lunch rules

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Monday evening here in Washington where lawmakers have a spending deal to fund the government through September. Read about that here.

 

THE BIG STORY

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue took steps Monday to roll back healthy school lunch standards promoted by former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Michelle Obama and Melinda Gates warn girls' education at risk due to pandemic Michelle Obama on depression: 'I'm doing just fine' MORE in one of his first regulatory acts. 

In an interim final rule, aimed at giving schools more flexibility, Perdue and his department are postponing new sodium reductions for at least three years and allowing schools to serve non-whole grain rich products occasionally as well as 1 percent flavored milk.

The rule allows states to exempt schools in the 2017-2018 school year from having to replace all their grains with whole-grain rich products if they are having a hard time meeting the standard.

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USDA said it will take "all necessary regulatory actions to implement a long-term solution."

"This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals," Perdue said in a statement. 

"If kids aren't eating the food, and it's ending up in the trash, they aren't getting any nutrition – thus undermining the intent of the program."

Sodium levels in school lunches now must average less than 1,230 milligrams in elementary schools; 1,360 mg in middle schools; and 1,420 mg in high school. 

Before Perdue's rule, schools were expected to reduce sodium even further to average less than 935 milligrams in elementary schools, 1035 milligrams in middle school lunches and 1,080 in high school lunches by the week by July 1, 2017.

Further reductions were set to take effect by July 1, 2022.

Perdue made the announcement Monday with Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsMcConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Virus bill unlikely to pass this week MORE (R-Kan.), who has long been working to ease the standards.

"We worked really hard the last two years to provide flexibility, but after unanimously passing a bipartisan bill out of Committee, our effort stalled," he said in a statement.

"The policies that Secretary Perdue has declared here today will provide the flexibility to ensure that schools are able to serve nutritious meals that children will actually eat. Because that is really what these programs are about: serving meals to hungry children so that they can learn and grow."

The School Nutrition Association, which represents nutrition directors at schools across the country, was quick to praise Perdue. The group has been lobbying Congress for more flexibility in what the have called "overly prescriptive regulations."

SNA claims less kids are buying lunch because they no longer like the food and schools are being forced to spend more money on lunches that largely end up in trash.

The former standards required all grains, including croutons and the breading on chicken patties, to be whole grain rich.

"School Nutrition Association is appreciative of Secretary Perdue's support of school meal programs in providing flexibility to prepare and serve healthy meals that are appealing to students," the group's CEO Patricia Montague said in a statement.

"School nutrition professionals are committed to the students they serve and will continue working with USDA and the Secretary to strengthen and protect school meal programs."

Health groups, meanwhile, claim the standards are working and that 99 percent of schools are in compliance.

"Improving children's health should be a top priority for the USDA, and serving more nutritious foods in schools is a clear-cut way to accomplish this goal," the American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement Friday ahead of USDA's action.

Find the story here.

House Democrats slammed the move. Click here to read more on that.

 

ON TAP FOR TUESDAY 

The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet to examine responses to the increase in religious hate crimes. 

The House Financial Services Committee will meet to markup the Financial Choice Act. The bill from Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) would overhaul the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, as well as curb the powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and subject it to tougher Congressional and White House oversight.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will have a hearing to look at ways to improve the regulation of medical technologies.

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

Keep an eye on these rules in Tuesday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) will issue new rules for fee-generating cases.

"This rule clarifies the definition of 'fee-generating case,' clarifies that brief advice is permitted by the regulation, and revises how a recipient accounts for attorneys' fees awards," the agency says.

The changes go into effect in 30 days.

--The Overseas Private Investment Corporation will issue new rules under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

These rules include changes to the FOIA process.

The changes go into effect immediately.

--The Small Business Administration (SBA) will delay an investment rule for the third time.

The SBA published the rule last December in an effort to "expand permitted investments in passive businesses," but the agency will consider changes to the rule.

The agency will delay the investment rule until Aug. 18 as it contemplates the changes.

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW

Interior secretary starts process for offshore drilling expansion plan

Internet's biggest players duck net neutrality fight

Federal court lets net neutrality regs stand

FCC head to brief Congress on net neutrality rollback

Trump signing executive orders at unprecedented pace

Medical marijuana supporters hopeful about government funding bill

Justices deny review of case challenging polar bear habitat

Justices order new look at fair lending lawsuit against Bank of America, Wells Fargo

Oil lobby pushes for offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico

Dems blast DOE study as biased toward coal, nuclear

After extinguishing e-cigs with regulation, Dems brag about keeping Big Tobacco in business (Washington Examiner)

 

BY THE NUMBERS

2: Proposed rules

4: Final rules

(Source: Tuesday's Federal Register)

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY 

"There's some people that want to go back to the old system, right? So we're going to look at that," President Trump said Monday, mulling the idea of breaking up major Wall Street banks.

Read about that here