42 House Republicans vote against extending free school lunches over the summer


The bipartisan Keep Kids Fed Act passed in the House by a vote of 376-42.

The House passed a bipartisan compromise bill on Thursday aimed at extending provisions that enable schools to provide meals for kids during summer vacation. But 42 Republicans opposed the bill.

The 376-42 vote passed the Keep Kids Fed Act, which sponsors say "will provide important funding and flexibility for communities to provide children healthy meals this summer and provide support to schools and daycares to respond to supply chain challenges and high food costs for the coming school year."

A temporary pandemic relief program under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enacted on March 18, 2020, made meals available to all K-12 students at no cost and increased the availability of similar meals during summer breaks. With the current provisions expiring at the end of June, a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers agreed on the Keep Kids Fed Act to ensure kids do not go hungry in July and August. They noted that the bill is fully funded.

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee, said in a press release on Tuesday, "This bill provides additional assistance to ensure that students can get the nutrition they need to help them learn and grow. While this bill does not go as far as I would like in supporting our nation's students, it is a meaningful step."

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the top Republican on the panel, praised it as well, saying: "The bipartisan Keep Kids Fed Act will empower schools to weather supply chain problems and inflation with targeted and temporary aid to schools. This budget-neutral legislation will also put our country's school nutrition programs back on the right track and keep the permanent pandemic narrative from being used to expand school meal programs beyond their intended purpose."

The 42 of Republicans in the House who voted against the package include Republican Study Committee Chair Jim Banks of Indiana, Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko, Illinois Rep. Mary Miller, and Texas Rep. Chip Roy.

Senate leaders are hoping to pass the bill quickly, before the existing programs expire and before the upcoming Independence Day recess.

But Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked passage of the bill on Thursday.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) told Politico on Wednesday that he might delay the legislation in protest over guidance by the Agriculture Department against anti-LGBTQ discrimination in school nutrition programs.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.