WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 – The House has approved a bill that would provide the first congressional authorization for the Obama administration’s $1-billion-a-year Feed the Future initiative.

The bill, approved on voice vote tonight, would authorize the initiative for one year. Its Senate fate is unclear, but the House measure’s chief sponsor, Chris Smith, R-N.J., promised to be “right back here next year” to push again for its passage. 

The initiative, which aims to boost food production and reduce malnutrition in 19 target countries, was launched in the wake of the food price spikes in 2008.

The White House never sought congressional authority for the initiative, raising concerns that it could be slashed or eliminated under a future administration or Congress.

House Republicans proposed in 2012 to kill Feed the Future, claiming that it duplicated other food-aid programs, but the idea never went anywhere. The Obama administration hoped Congress would pass an authorization bill for Feed the Future this year while Democrats still control the Senate.

Smith said the initiative was “totally inclusive of women” and followed a broad “whole-of-government” approach to development.

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