WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger last night voted with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House to pass a short-term funding agreement that would keep the federal government open through December 11, 2020.
The bipartisan funding deal includes language from Spanberger’s bipartisan amendment to protect access to school meals. Specifically, this amendment would extend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Child Nutrition waiver authority, so that schools have the flexibility and support they need to continue school lunch and breakfast programs. Currently, this authority — which also allows child and adult care centers to operate as non-congregate and waives certain meal pattern requirements — is set to expire at the end of the month.
“For many Central Virginia kids, school meals provide one of their only reliable sources of nutrition. To make sure these students stay healthy and strong, we need to give our schools additional certainty that meal pattern requirements will be waived for the duration of the current school year,” said Spanberger. “I’m proud to stand alongside my colleague Congressman Davis in moving forward our commonsense, bipartisan amendment, which would ensure USDA has the authority to reduce red tape and allow schools to have the flexibility they need to keep our students fed. No child in Central Virginia should go hungry, and during this moment of uncertainty, we must do everything on our power to protect and expand access to school lunch and breakfast programs.”
The funding deal also provides nearly $8 billion for nutrition assistance programs, as well as stronger oversight of CCC spending.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Spanberger has worked to address food security issues in Central Virginia caused by COVID-19. In April 2020, she pressed USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue on his Department’s strategy to respond to the urgent shortages at food banks across the country. Earlier that month, Spanberger helped lead a successful bipartisan push to fix previous USDA guidance that unnecessarily put immunocompromised students at risk during school meal pick-ups.
Spanberger’s school meal amendment was co-led by U.S. Representatives Rodney Davis (R-IL-31) and Don Bacon (R-NE-02).
The bipartisan funding agreement also includes a provision Spanberger pushed to include that would deliver much-needed relief to American farmers, producers, and agribusinesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, Spanberger successfully pushed to include an extension of the Commodity Credit Corporations (CCC’s) borrowing authority after congressional leadership threated to exclude this funding.
“As U.S. producers grapple with extreme weather conditions, trade concerns, and COVID-19, the last thing we should do is threaten to pull funding from critical farm safety net programs. I’m encouraged that Congress found bipartisan agreement on including CCC funding in this package,” said Spanberger. “I’m glad that a bipartisan agreement was reached to avoid another reckless government shutdown, keep important federal programs funded, and strengthen food assistance to hungry children and families. However, both parties in the House must now focus on delivering a bipartisan COVID-19 package for struggling families, workers, and businesses. In this time of crisis, our priority must be to deliver assistance and support to the people we serve.”
Spanberger has consistently pushed back against efforts to slash assistance to U.S. crop and livestock producers. After reports surfaced that House leaders were considering the removal of funding for Market Facilitation Payments (MFPs) in a September 2019 funding deal, Spanberger helped spearhead the fight to protect the MFP program, which provides financial assistance to farmers impacted by the administration’s ongoing trade wars.