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House To Vote Wednesday On Child Nutrition Bill, Cuts To Food Stamps Possible

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WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) were joined by other Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday in calling for the swift passage of the child-nutrition reauthorization legislation.

"This is the right, moral thing for us to do," Pelosi told reporters on Tuesday, adding that because kids can't learn when they're hungry, "it also has an impact on our competitiveness" as a nation.

The House will vote Wednesday on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a bill the Senate already approved by unanimous consent in August. The House will take up the Senate's version of the bill with no new amendments.

"We will not make any changes because we want to be able to send it to the president," said Miller, chairman of the Education and Labor Committee.

The bill would expand eligibility for school lunch programs and establish nutrition standards for all school meals. It also raises the reimbursement rate to 6 cents per meal for any school adhering to the new standards.

Pelosi and Miller were joined by Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and James McGovern (D-Mass.), as well as by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), in voicing their support for the legislation.

The deficit-neutral bill, which would provide $4.5 billion to school lunch and other federal child-nutrition programs, marks the first time since 1973 that Congress has increased funding for school lunch programs, beyond the usual corrections for inflation.

Some members, including Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich, came out against the bill when Senate Democrats announced they would help pay for it by cutting from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps.

Kucinich wouldn't comment when HuffPost asked him what he thought about the child nutrition bill Monday night. But in a statement last month he said "it is wrong to cut food stamp assistance" with so many Americans dependent on them for survival.

Money for the child nutrition bill should be raised in other ways, Kucinich has argued, such as revoking corporate tax deductions for advertising aimed at selling junk food to children.

DeLauro addressed those concerns Tuesday, saying she didn't believe in taking food from some people to feed others.

"The administration will work with the Congress to restore those funds," she assured reporters on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. "We look forward to passing this legislation with those assurances in mind."

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