From AMCHP Interim Legislative Updates August 9, 1996, vol. 3, no.2

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee postponed action on its appropriations bill (which funds Title V) until after the August recess. Key Senators have indicated a desire to act on an appropriations bill in September to give them a stronger position in negotiations with House members who have already completed action. At this point, it is still too early to tell whether the Senate subcommittee will actually be able to produce an appropriations bill for FY "97 or whether a continuing resolution will fund these programs. Typically, this bill is one of the most contentious, and there has already been speculation that a continuing resolution is more likely. The decision to fund these programs through a continuing resolution will probably be made in mid-September.


The House and Senate have finished action on the FY '97 Agricultural Appropriations bill which funds the WIC food program. Both the House and Senate bills recommend the FY '96 funding level of $3.73 billion funding level for FY '97. The program is expected to serve 7.3 million participants next year. The House bill included authority for the USDA Secretary to transfer WIC carry-over funds that exceed $100 million to any other programs except the Forest Service.

Additionally, the House bill includes language pertaining to WIC infant formula cost containment that would require rule-making for new infant formula contracts to be awarded on the basis of lowest net cost. The only exception would be if a state could provide data showing less than a 5% variance in the retail prices of infant formula. A House / Senate conference is the next likely action for this agricultural funding bill.