Dear Colleagues --
I forward a memo received from Peter and Trish in Washington to update you on the very fast-moving issues, including a SNAP program update, the status of August congressional recess, and further news about the spreading trade war, specifically the U.S./Mexico situation.
We will keep you informed.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Patricia Knight <PKnight@knight-cap.us>
Date: Tue, Jun 5, 2018 at 2:46 PM
Subject: Member update
To: Loren Israelsen <email@example.com>
Cc: Peter Reinecke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
We wanted members to be aware of some new developments as we continue our work on your behalf in the rapidly-changing Washington, DC landscape.
SNAP Program: UNPA has been working with CRN and others to get legislation that would allow multivitamins to be purchased with SNAP (formerly “food stamps”) benefits. This would be a historic step in that it would mark the first time that a dietary supplement is widely recognized as a benefit in a federal government program. As you may recall, Rep. Mike Rogers was successful in getting this provision adopted by voice vote in the House Farm bill. However, the future of that bill became jeopardized due to unrelated political circumstances and it did not pass when brought up on the House floor last month. It may be reconsidered later this month.
More recently, we have been working closely with Senator Orrin Hatch, who is working to see if Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts would incorporate the SNAP/multivitamin provision in the Senate farm bill counterpart, which should be released this week. Senator Hatch and former Senator Tom Harkin were instrumental in bringing the need for this change in the law to the forefront with amendments they authored in the late 90s and early 2000s. In fact, the provision passed the Senate in both 2002 and 2008 but never was approved in the House.
Our plan is to see if we can have the same provision in both House and Senate bills, thus providing a greater assurance it could be maintained in the final compromise. The farm bill is considered must do legislation before Congress adjourns, and this is the closest we have come to getting this important change made to the SNAP program.
Congressional Recess: Speaking of adjournment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced today that he was canceling all but the first week of the planned August congressional recess. This decision reflects both the political realities of the growing numbers of upstart, less-tenured Senators; many of the more junior members were outspoken in calling for a complete cancelation of recess so the “Senate could get its work done. It allows Congress more time to complete work on appropriations, including those for HHS and FDA, the farm bill and other priority issues, but it also minimizes the time Senators can spend with constituents in their home states. Indeed, the rumor is that the GOP wishes to hinder the ability of the 10 vulnerable Democrats up for re-election this year to spend time in their home states.
Trade: The Trump Administration’s announcement of tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum as well as retaliatory duties on products from China, has met with a backlash from other countries, which some see as the beginning of a trade war. Today, Mexico released a 16-page list of products (conveniently in Spanish!) which will lose preferential tariffs under NAFTA. We have reviewed the list which appears primarily to be U.S. agricultural products, plus certain steel products, but we have attached it in case you want to double check! This is an extremely volatile and fast-moving situation, and there will be more to come. Recall, there are proposed tariffs on China that would specifically impact dietary supplement products/ingredients.