House Debates Ag Appropriations While White House Threatens Veto

White House won't approve appropriations bill if it allows schools to opt out of lunch program

Published on: Jun 12, 2014

House legislators on Wednesday began debate on the 2015 agricultural appropriations bill amid concerns that it could eventually be vetoed by the President, if key provisions aren't altered.

According to a Statement of Administration Policy issued by the White House Tuesday, several issues on the bill remain, including a highly discussed school lunch waiver allowance that the Administration thinks could undermine child nutrition.

The provision requires establishment of a waiver process to eliminate current nutrition requirements for school meals during the 2014-2015 school year for any district that demonstrates a net operating loss on meals for at least six months beginning in July 2013.

White House wont approve appropriations bill if it allows schools to opt out of lunch program
White House won't approve appropriations bill if it allows schools to opt out of lunch program

Related: House Ag Appropriations Bill Moves Through Committee

"This would be a major step backwards for the health of American children by undermining the effort to provide kids with more nutritious food," the SAP said, adding that the Administration would oppose any inclusion of language that would "override science-based standards that improve child nutrition."

In addition to the school meals issue, the SAP also outlined other areas that may draw a veto from the President, including language in the bill that would require the inclusion of white potatoes in the Women, Infants and Children nutrition assistance food package.

Related: Vilsack says House Committee School Lunch Waivers Hurt Progress

According to the SAP, the move takes the "unprecedented step of overriding the science-based review process used to determine which foods should be included in the WIC food package."

Lawmakers engaged in debate regarding admitting white potatoes as a WIC option Wednesday; advocates of including the potatoes say they are a good source of potassium, fiber, and folate. Opponents, however, say they provide fewer nutritional benefits than many other vegetable options.

The House adjouned Wednesday without voting on the complete bill.