So the GOP is trying to block a $4.5 billion bill that would improve school-food nutrition and increase the number of disadvantaged kids who get school lunch.
Basically House Republicans are putting the brakes on the legislation — a version of which has already passed in the Senate — by adding an amendment that’ll force it to go back to the Senate rather than going straight to the President to be signed into law. And bien sur, if Republicans can delay the vote until after Christmas break, they’ll be the majority in Congress. So a bill that will require free drinking water in cafeterias, add more lower-fat and whole-grain options to menus, and reduce the amount of junk food and sugary drinks sold in school vending machines will get quashed. Lovely.
Democrats are vowing to fight back through their own Congressional maneuverings. It’s all so demoralizing. How is this controversial? How is it that Democrats can’t seem to get any PR traction out of Republicans DENYING HUNGRY CHILDREN FOOD? (Sarah Palin brings cookies to Pennsylvania, saying legislators there are trying to ban them in schools — which isn’t true, but hey, why let truth stand in the way of a good PR opp? And Democrats can’t even leverage the actual truth? Why don’t we have anyone with Palin or Glenn Beck’s demonize-the-other-guy power?)
But I digress. The nutrition bill is the baby of Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark), who wants to get more fruits and veggies into schools and make sure that kids whose families forget or fail to fill out the forms showing their eligibility for free lunches won’t end up getting penalized. The law would also expand an after-school dinner program for the neediest kids — its currently available in only 12 states and DC, and Lincoln wants it in all 50 states. This is controversial how, exactly? I do understand that school administrators feel that federal reimbursements for free lunches are not nearly enough, though the law will give them a bit more money.Â I understand that they feel they’re being told to do more with less. Making school lunch healthier is a complicated endeavor, involving a lot of masters and a lot of constituencies and a HELL of a lot of financial barriers. It’s frustrating when people insist it’s easy. It ain’t. But GAAAAAAAAAH I hope this bill passes. It is a start. We should know by the end of the day.
UPDATE: It passed. Now we just have to fight to restore food stamp funding. Remind me again why we suck so hard at demonizing a party that fights the idea of returning people who earn over a million dollars a year to the tax bracket they USED to be in under Republican presidents a few administrations ago, but who want to take food out of the mouths of poor people? Look, I’m so cranky I wrote a barely coherent sentence. Oh well.