House Appropriations Committee Considers $28 Million in Relief For Washington Food Programs

House Appropriations Committee Considers $28 Million in Relief For Washington Food Programs


Lawmakers consider 28 million in relief for Washington food

House Appropriations Committee Considers $28 Million in Relief For Washington Food Programs

Washington lawmakers are considering allocating $28 million in emergency funding to Washington state's food banks. This money would go toward purchasing food, increasing inventories and managing food delivery and logistics services.

This surge of cash is being directed at combatting what some nonprofits are calling the "hunger cliff," which will affect food stamp recipients once they cease receiving federal assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Appropriations Committee

House Appropriations Committee lawmakers are considering spending $28 million for Washington food programs. This amount of money is essential in guaranteeing people have access to nutritious food and will also give support to our state's food banks.

Food insecurity has a detrimental impact on nearly every aspect of society, from families to children and the elderly. Fortunately, lawmakers can do much to address hunger and provide relief to those in need.

Before any budget can be passed by Congress, lawmakers must first create a resolution outlining spending levels for the federal government. While not officially passed into law, these budget resolutions must then be reconciled between House and Senate members before becoming law.

Once the budget resolutions have been passed, both chambers must pass appropriations bills that fund federal agencies. Once passed by both chambers and signed by the President, these bills become law.

Legislators must carefully weigh several factors when crafting these bills, such as how much funding each program requires and its likely costs. These discussions typically take place in hearings held by the 12 subcommittees that make up the Appropriations Committees.

Once approved by subcommittees, an appropriations bill then moves forward to be debated and eventually passed into law by both Houses and Senates - this process being known as "appropriations cycle."

Though most of these processes are similar, there are some notable distinctions between the House and Senate. For instance, the Senate has a more robust budget process than the House does and often relies on CBO data when creating its budget.

Therefore, the Senate often makes decisions more favorable to its members' districts than do the House of Representatives. This process benefits both committee members and their constituents by allocating funds toward projects in their districts that have a tangible effect on the community.

The Appropriations Committee is one of the most powerful and influential committees in America, earning it the nickname "power committee." This moniker was coined by political scientists to reflect its power over the Treasury as they decide how funds are spent.

Senate Appropriations Committee

In Washington State, food banks have been a lifesaver for seniors and families during the recent pandemic. Now, with federal support for these programs set to expire on March 1, state legislators are scrambling to find alternative solutions. Some proposals include providing extra funds to food banks; however, these won't replace lost benefits.

The Senate Appropriations Committee meets weekly during the legislative session to approve funding for government agencies under its subcommittees. These subcommittees create draft appropriations bills and submit them to the full Appropriations Committee, who reviews and approves them before being considered by all senators.

Each appropriations bill is written by a different subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which must adhere to spending limits and allocations established in Congress' budget resolution, approved by the President. However, that committee can waive these restrictions if 60 senators vote in favor of doing so.

The committee also utilizes a unique feature called the Consent Calendar, which permits it to swiftly pass bills with minimal fiscal impact. These bills are reviewed at a special hearing called Suspensions File where testimony isn't taken.

As farm production faces increased challenges, it is essential for appropriators to continue funding USDA's essential loan programs such as Direct Operating Loans and FSA Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Producer loans. The 2018 Farm Bill increased loan limits, providing more farmers with access to funding through these initiatives.

Research - The Senate bill includes a modest 2 percent increase in agriculture research and extension funding over the previous year, though this level is higher than what was proposed by the House bill. NSAC remains concerned that there are only modest improvements made to Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), the sole farmer-driven USDA research program; thus, we urge appropriators to protect funding for this essential initiative.

The Senate bill also allocates $28 million in relief for Washington food, including $3 million to support the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). FRSAN is a crucial program that offers mental health services to farm families in Washington state; it helps them cope with financial risk, volatile markets, unpredictable weather patterns, and heavy workloads associated with farming.

Ways and Means Committee

The Ways and Means Committee, one of the most powerful and respected panels in Congress, oversees taxation and other revenue-related matters. They have jurisdiction over public debt, tariffs and trade laws, Social Security and Medicare reimbursements as well as money appropriations to various government agencies.

The Ways and Means Committee reviews major legislation introduced, often by its own members, which affects America's economic wellbeing. Recent key topics considered by this body include welfare reform, Medicare prescription drug benefits, Social Security reform, George W. Bush's tax cuts and trade agreements like NAFTA or CAFTA.

A bill introduced this week in the House would provide $28 million in relief for Washington food programs. The funds would be split among three categories: $20 million from the Department of Agriculture general fund; $2 million to grant funding hunger relief organizations and $6 million for senior nutrition services and outreach activities.

While some lawmakers argue that $28 million in relief isn't enough to fully replace lost emergency federal funding, it could help put food on the table for families who are struggling. According to Mia Gregerson (D-SeaTac), who sponsored the bill in the House Appropriations Committee, "this would be a good start in getting us ahead of the situation."

According to research by University of Washington economist Sara Otten and others, the change in federal law from COVID-19 could still result in a shortage of fresh produce at some food banks. This shortage could especially impact households with children, the poor, and renters, according to researchers.

Local food banks are already feeling the strain from an 80% drop in inventory compared to this time last year. And even if state-run institutions can fill the void, new SNAP rules could mean fewer dollars for low-income Washington households receiving assistance with food purchases.

Budget Committee

The Budget Committee is responsible for creating Congress' budget resolution and overseeing spending within the federal government. It examines a President's request to Congress, drafts that resolution, which sets spending guidelines for congressional appropriations proceedings, and reviews any supplemental requests made by him that weren't included in his original request.

The congressional budget process begins with the president's annual request to Congress and concludes when lawmakers approve a spending package for the fiscal year. This proposal is based on economic projections made by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Budget resolutions set overall spending guidelines for the federal government and Congress passes laws to oversee it. House and Senate usually pass their own resolutions, then come together in conference to reconcile any discrepancies between their bills through a joint explanatory statement.

The House Budget Committee examines a wide variety of matters related to government fiscal policy, such as the economy and budget outlook, as well as issues surrounding the federal deficit. Its members hold hearings on the president's proposal and create a concurrent budget resolution which serves as the blueprint for congressional action on spending, revenue and debt-limit legislation.

In addition to hearings, the Budget Committee holds conferences and discussions on congressional budget and spending legislation. During these gatherings, witnesses testify and the Committee develops a strategy for resolving any disagreements between House and Senate versions of the budget resolution. Once both chambers agree on their version of the resolution, it is then reported back to the House for action.

In Washington State, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic, lawmakers are scrambling to provide assistance for families who could lose food assistance if the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ends its benefits on March 1. The proposed $28 million relief is meant as a temporary solution and would cover lost benefits until Washington's next budget vote in April. Some of this money would go towards food banks while others would go towards nutrition programs for seniors and children.

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