WASHINGTON, D.C., March 8, 2024 — The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization focused on heart and brain health that is celebrating its centennial birthday this year, issued the following statement in response to Congress’ passage today of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which will fund key federal departments and agencies for the remainder of the fiscal year:

“This spending bill avoids a government shutdown that would have disrupted essential government services to millions of people and takes steps to address public health. Regrettably, the package also includes provisions backed by some corporate interests that will weaken critical nutrition security nationwide.

“We are pleased that Congress provided broad support to fully fund the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which serves six million infants, toddlers and pregnant people. The funding bill also maintains the WIC expanded cash value benefit for fruits and vegetables, a key ingredient for kids to grow up and have a healthy future.

“While we are relieved that a harmful special ‘carveout’ that would have exempted cheese from counting against sodium levels in school meals was removed from the bill, we are disappointed that lawmakers included another damaging provision that would halt sodium reduction in school meals, allowing schools to continue serving unhealthy levels of sodium and missing the opportunity to encourage and reward industry innovation. Additionally, the legislation impedes the FDA’s important work on reducing sodium to improve the quality of our food supply. 

“We are grateful that Congress removed harmful riders that would have hindered the administration’s ability to implement rules to reduce the nicotine levels in cigarettes and end the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars. It has been nearly two years since the FDA proposed rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. It is beyond time for the White House to act.

“This spending package includes many steps in the right direction, but to make a true difference for children’s health and the nation’s well-being, Congress must provide federal agencies and important programs the support needed to improve public health. We urge Congress to pass a comprehensive appropriations package for the next fiscal year that removes detrimental riders, rejects new harmful policies and advances health and hope for everyone, everywhere.”

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About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for a century. During 2024 - our Centennial year - we celebrate our rich 100-year history and accomplishments. As we forge ahead into our second century of bold discovery and impact our vision is to advance health and hope for everyone, everywhere. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.    

For Media Inquiries:
Arielle Beer: 202-785-7902; arielle.beer@heart.org  
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)
heart.org and stroke.org