After months of inaction, S. 3136, the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016, got an unexpected jolt of life on September 15 when the bill was hotlined, boosting the hopes of supporters and removing a hurdle for the bill to be considered by the full Senate. Last week, while most eyes were focused on the heated debates occurring in the Senate surrounding legislation to keep the government funded, deliberations over numerous sticking points in the child nutrition reauthorization bill were also taking place. While it is rumored that many of the disagreements were reconciled last week, there are a handful of issues yet to be resolved. It is not yet clear whether these items will be settled in time for full Senate consideration on the larger package this week; however, the Senate Agriculture Committee’s top members, Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), are both working behind the scenes to quickly advance the bipartisan legislation, making floor action this week within the realm of possibility.

Background: On January 20, 2016, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted unanimously to report its child nutrition reauthorization legislation. On May 18, 2016, the House Education and the Workforce Committee marked up its reauthorization bill, H.R. 5003, the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016. H.R. 5003 was reported by a vote of 20-14. Although the approaches in the underlying legislation are different, both the Senate and House bills seek to improve school meal policies and make changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).