As the U.S. House of Representatives prepared to consider the fiscal year 2015 agricultural appropriations bill, the White House threatened to veto the legislation due to opposition related to funding provisions related to school nutrition programs, potatoes in the Women, Infants and Children program and other policy issues.
This is the first veto threat from the White House for fiscal year 2015 spending bills.
“The bill undermines key investments in financial oversight, injects political decision-making into science-based nutrition standards, and includes objectionable language riders,” said the official Statement of Administration Policy. “If the President were presented with H.R. 4800, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”
The spending bill’s price tag comes in at $142.5 billion, with $20.9 billion of that sum being directed to discretionary spending programs, which is equal to the fiscal year 2014 enacted spending level. The bill provides funding for agricultural and food programs and services, including food and medical product safety, animal and plant health programs, rural development and farm services, marketplace oversight, and nutrition programs, according to the House Appropriations Committee.
Specifically, the White House raised opposed the following provisions:
School Nutrition: Language in the bill would require USDA to establish a one-year waiver to allow schools that demonstrate a net operating loss on school meals for at least six months beginning in July 2013 to opt out of school lunch and school breakfast requirements.
Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC): Language in the bill adds white potatoes to the WIC food package. The White House says this provision takes “the unprecedented step of overriding the science-based review process used to determine which foods should be included in the WIC food package.”
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA): The administration opposes a decision to not include funding requested in the President’s budget for competitive research grants for research related to pollinator health, advanced manufacturing and anti-microbial resistance.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC): The administration opposes a $62 million reduction in funding from the President’s budget request for the CFTC that would be used for salaries and other general expenses.
To read the full Statement of Administration Policy, click here.
The bill passed out of the full Appropriations Committee in late May. Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said the bill invests in the people of this country, including the most vulnerable, and ensures the agriculture industry is “successful, productive and safe.”
If passed by the full House of Representatives, the bill will be conferenced with a Senate version of an agricultural spending bill, which is currently being considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee. While the House-passed version will never make it to the President's desk for his signature due to likely changes that would come from a conference committee, issuing the veto threat allows the White House the opportunity to officially register its opposition to provisions within the legislation.