CWA partners with breastfeeding advocates all over the state to draw attention to the stark health inequities caused by inadequate breastfeeding support policies in many California hospitals. We seek policy reforms through local organizing, administrative and legislative advocacy.Learn More
Action Needed! SB 402 (De Leon) will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee in Late June or Early July! Please send a letter of support to the committee today! Click here for template letters. Be a voice for moms and babies!
Why Do I Have to Work So Hard to Protect WIC?Margaret Aumann - June 12, 2013
For busy WIC practitioners, sometimes it may seem like there is a constant need to advocate for adequate WIC funding with policymakers. Why are there so many urgent Alerts and Calls to Action? Why are both NWA and CWA always reminding you to invite your member of Congress for a clinic visit?
Can’t we all take a break?? I wish we could!
Three realities require us to maintain our vigilance and activism in the foreseeable future. First, we all know WIC is a domestic discretionary program, 100% federally funded. Even in a good year, we must work hard to ensure that our annual Congressional appropriations allow us to serve all needy families and pursue program improvements like breastfeeding services and EBT.
Next, while all other major nutrition programs (SNAP, school meals) are exempt from mandatory budget sequestration that will be imposed on federal programs for the next nine years, WIC is not statutorily protected and is very vulnerable to across-the-board cuts.
Thirdly, a polarized and divisive atmosphere in Washington means that WIC may not continue to enjoy the bi-partisan support that has allowed it to survive largely unscathed for decades. Republicans control the House of Representatives in the 113th Congress and are heavily influenced by the “Tea Party” wing. There are a growing number of Republican House members (and some conservative Democrats) who do not feel the same affinity for WIC as their more moderate brethren, many of whom are now retiring. They are more ideologically driven, are looking to cut any and all federal programs, especially domestic discretionary programs.
In FY 2013, WIC was funded sufficiently only because an adequate appropriations baseline, combined with declining caseload and other factors, allowed us to serve all eligible participants without waiting lists. The fiscal year that begins this October 1 is another story entirely. President Obama’s FY 2014 WIC funding proposal of $7.142 billion should be fully adequate, but it’s far from certain to be the final number. There will be less money left in the carryover/contingency pots to buffer funding cuts. The House has already appropriated inadequate funds and essentially eliminated set-aside funds for breastfeeding peer counselors, EBT/MIS and research. Even if Senate appropriators do better, sequestration will again be in play, with extremely fierce competition over scarce domestic discretionary funding.
So, once again, we’ll have to work very hard to WIC from damaging cuts that could take years to restore. To make it fun, CWA will launch Phase Three of our WE NEED WIC Campaign - California's WIC Business-Community Alliance - this summer. Stay tuned for more next week!
Sequester Reprieve but Danger Still LurksLaurie True - April 12, 2013
WIC got a reprieve last month from damaging FY 2013 sequestration cuts required by the Budget Control Act. Congress passed the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 replacing the expiring Continuing Resolution and funding WIC at a higher allocation of $7.056 billion through September 30, 2013. The higher CR appropriation for WIC raised the base upon which a 5% sequestration cut was imposed, with a further small amount subsequently shaved off by OMB to meet statutory caps. The final WIC funding level for the current fiscal year is $6.522 billion.
How could a total of $510 million in cuts be considered a reprieve for WIC? Because, even at this lower level, experts predict the appropriation will support full WIC participation. Contingency and carryover funds, declining caseloads (discussed in a previous blog), and tight fiscal management by state and local programs anticipating the worst, will allow the program to squeak through September.
Next fiscal year is another story entirely. President Obama’s FY 2014 WIC funding proposal of $7.142 billion should be fully adequate, but it’s far from certain to be the final number. The jobs picture is souring a little, and inflation will raise food and business costs. There will be less money left in the carryover/contingency pots to buffer funding cuts. Mandatory sequestration will again be in play, and the dynamics in Congress over how these cuts will be made will be much tougher, with fierce competition over scarce domestic discretionary funding.
In anticipation of the challenges of convincing Congress, particularly House appropriators, to continue supporting full funding for WIC, CWA is kicking off “Phase 3” of our WE NEED WIC organizing campaign designed to engage WIC’s key allies and business partners in communicating their support, by endorsing a simple statement that is posted on our website. By summer’s end, we would like to garner 500 endorsements by state and local groups, companies, and individuals, just in time to share them with Congress!
See you in San Jose!