The Budget Control Act of 2011 requires Congress to cut $2.4 trillion in federal spending over the next decade in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. As the complex deal is implemented, WIC funding will be vulnerable to unacceptable cuts at five key points, explained below. At each juncture of the political process, targeted and effective advocacy will be needed to protect our program. All hands on deck! Watch this inspirational video and get ready for action!
- First, we need to make sure that Senate appropriators restore the funding we need to get through next year, but the Senate has not yet passed a funding bill. Senate Agriculture Appropriations is expected to mark up a bill by mid-September. We must convince the Senate to fund WIC adequately at around $6.83 billion in FY 2012!
- Second, there will be $917 billion in immediate cuts to domestic discretionary programs over ten years, of which about 60% will come from nondefense spending. It will be entirely up to Congressional appropriators what to cut to meet these new ten-year spending caps: no program is exempt, and about $21 billion must come out in FY 2012. WIC could be protected, but only by making a strong case to Congress, and competition will be fierce. We must convince Congressional appropriators not to cut WIC in this initial round!
- Next is the “super committee.” Last week, Congressional leaders named six Democrats and six Republicans to a Joint Committee charged with cutting an additional $1.5 trillion over ten years by November 23. Everything will be on the table during this phase – entitlements, taxes, military, crop subsidies, and WIC. We must convince the “super committee” not to include any WIC cuts in their deal.
- If the Joint Committee fails to make a deal (most pundits see that outcome as likely), a “trigger,” or sequester, will automatically cut up to $1.2 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years, split between domestic and defense spending, effective January 2013. The sequester will exempt WIC as well as Medicaid, CHIP, Social Security and SSI, SNAP, other child nutrition programs (except Special Milk) and other low-income programs, as well as Medicare (except for provider payments, which may be cut by up to 2%). We must ensure that WIC stays exempt if the debt trigger is pulled!
- If WIC is exempted from the triggered cuts described above, there is still a chance that WIC funding could be slashed as part of a one-time cap in “new discretionary funding” imposed by the legislation, that goes into effect in early 2013. We must convince appropriators to protect WIC from this automatic “new funding” cut in 2013.
The CWA Board and Staff will meet later this year to begin planning a comprehensive long term public education and legislative strategy to preserve and protect WIC’s proven-effective and life-saving services to millions. We’ll need to work together and partner with WIC supporters from all other sectors: health and human services, breastfeeding, union members, faith communities and women’s groups. Want to get involved? Become a WIC Ambassador or call CWA for more information!