The final version of a spending bill released late Monday would unravel school lunch standards the Agriculture Department proposed earlier this year, which included limiting the use of potatoes on the lunch line and delaying limits on sodium and delaying a requirement to boost whole grains.
The bill also would allow tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable, as it is now.
But it’s also instructive in how current Republicans think and act. First there’s a good summary of the background here:
Congress authorized USDA to improve the nutritional quality of school meals seven years ago (which was already long overdue). USDA commissioned a report from the IOM to help the agency do exactly that, based on the best available science. USDA subsequently proposed regulations, has taken public comment, and should then come out with final regulations. (It’s Civics 101, folks: Congress makes the laws and the executive branch carries them out). Agencies such as the USDA are the experts, not Congress. That is why the legislature delegates authority to the agency in charge. But the food industry didn’t get what it wanted through the normal channels, so it went to Congress, which usurped the entire process.
In other words, a chnage that was started under a Republican president and passed by a Republican Congress is being decried by Republicans. Here are the Republican positions:
Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee said the changes would “prevent overly burdensome and costly regulations and to provide greater flexibility for local school districts to improve the nutritional quality of meals.”
But it really doesn’t cost much more:
But barring the USDA from cutting back on tomato paste and starchy vegetables “will have little to no effect on the cost of the new standards” for school meals, said Aaron Lavallee, a USDA spokesman.
As the USDA presses forward on finalizing its school meals proposal — without the tomato and potato language — it maintains that it will more than offset the costs associated with its plan by adopting revenue-raising measures.
Really, I think they just want to cut money that helps the poor (in related news, they also want to cut food stamps).
Republicans also are all for choice:
Food companies that produce frozen pizzas for schools, the salt industry and potato growers requested the changes, and some conservatives in Congress say the federal government shouldn’t be telling children what to eat.
Well, they do if the industry gives them lots of money.
I also have a feeling Republicans are doing this because the Obama administration is for it and they think it will upset liberals. Those two things seem to be the driving force behind much of Republican actions these days.