Washington Week Ahead: Focus on School Nutrition Standards

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, June 9, 2014 - The Obama administration's push for healthier school meals will get lots of attention this week as the full House is expected to take up its fiscal year 2015 Agriculture appropriations bill while the Senate Agriculture Committee holds a hearing on child nutrition programs.

The spending bill approved by the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee includes a controversial provision that would allow school districts to seek waivers from compliance with government-set standards for healthier school meals. The White House has pushed back hard against the measure, calling it a step backward in the fight against childhood obesity. In a rare foray into policy issues, first lady Michelle Obama, who had a hand in developing the standards, called the GOP plan “unacceptable."

It's not clear yet exactly when the House will consider the agriculture spending bill. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the measure is among several bills that will be considered starting on Tuesday. The Senate Agriculture Committee's hearing on reauthorization of the child nutrition programs is set for 10 a.m. Thursday.

Monday, June 9.

Together we can feed the Bees"

Acting Deputy USTR Wendy Cutler and Ambassador Takeo Mori of Japan on June 9 and 10 will lead U.S.-Japan Parallel Negotiations to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, focusing on Motor Vehicle Trade, in Washington.

Bread for the World holds its National Gathering through June 10 in Washington.  Under the theme “Bread Rising: Working Together to End Hunger by 2030,” speakers will join activists, members, and supporters in celebrating the organization's 40th anniversary and mapping out steps to end hunger in the next 15 years. Speakers include John Podesta, special adviser to President Obama, and Rick Steves, public television personality, travel expert, and longtime Bread activist.  For a schedule of events, visit http://www.bread.org/event/national-gathering-2014/schedule.html. The event is being held at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center in Washington.

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives holds its annual Washington conference, through Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy, will provide an update on the ongoing TPP and TTIP negotiations at 9 a.m. today. Members of the group will visit lawmaker offices on Wednesday.

12 p.m. The House meets for morning hour at noon and at 2 p.m. for legislative sessions. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m. A second vote series is possible on Monday night. Legislation that may be considered under suspension of the rules includes S. 1254, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013, and H.R. 4745, the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015.

12:10 p.m. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visits with the 10 finalist teams of high school culinary students as they compete in a challenge to create tasty and nutritious school lunches for about $1 a meal. The “Cooking Up Change” competition, sponsored by the Healthy Schools Campaign, a non-profit organization based in Chicago, aims to empower students in the national dialogue about school food. The competition is being held in the Education Department cafeteria.

12:45 p.m. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will take part in a discussion hosted by the White House Rural Council entitled “Regional Food Economies: Building Market Opportunities for Rural America.”  Other panelists include Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe. Vilsack will announce a federal initiative called “Local Food, Local Places” that helps rural communities integrate strategies for local food efforts into their economic action plans. He will also discuss the latest findings from the updated USDA National Farm to School Census. The event will be live-streamed on the White House website.

2 p.m. Senate convenes, at 5:30 p.m. members will meet in executive session to consider executive branch nominations.

4 p.m. USDA weekly Crop Progress report.

7:30 p.m. House Veterans Affairs Committee holds a hearing to examine data manipulation and access to VA healthcare. 334 Cannon.

Tuesday, June 10.

8:45 a.m. House Appropriations Energy and Water subcommittee meets to markup the FY 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill. 2362B Rayburn.

10 a.m.  The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Land and Environmental Regulation holds a hearing on several bills including H.R. 4272, which would stop implementation and enforcement of the Forest Service travel management rule and require the Forest Service to incorporate the needs, uses, and input of affected communities before taking any travel management action affecting access to units of the National Forest System derived from the public domain, and for other purposes. 1324 Longworth.

The House meets at 10 a.m. for morning hour and noon for legislative business. House Majority Leader Cantor says between Tuesday and Thursday members will be taking up bills including H.R. 4745, the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015; H.R. 4880, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015; and H.R. 4457 - America's Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014.

2 p.m. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Manufacturers, Partnership for a New American Economy, TechNet and AmericanHort will host an immigration briefing on Capitol Hill. Speakers include Bipartisan Policy Center's Immigration Task Force member John Shadegg, American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Farm Credit East Senior Vice President Robert Smith, Cargill Corporate Vice President of Corporate Affairs Mike Fernandez, and Caterpillar, Inc. Senior Corporate Counsel Mark Peters. 2237 Rayburn.

2:30 p.m.  The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Subcommittee meets to markup the FY 2015 Appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Human Services and Education and Related Agencies.  124 Dirksen.

 

Wednesday, June 11.

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will speak at the White House Working Families Summit.

The House meets at 10 a.m. for morning hour and noon for legislative business.

10 a.m. House Ways and Means Trade subcommittee will hold a hearing on the benefits of expanding U.S. trade and eliminating barriers to U.S. exports. 1100 Longworth.

12 p.m. USDA monthly Crop Production and WASDE reports.

3 p.m. USDA Broiler Hatchery report.

Thursday, June 12.

On Thursday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.

10 a.m. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee holds a hearing to examine how child nutrition programs can help to address some of the biggest challenges facing the nation including national security, economic vitality and the health of children and families. A live webcast of the hearing will be available. 328A Russell.

Friday, June 13.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said no votes are expected today.

3 p.m. USDA report on Peanut Prices.

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