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Legislation & Policy

Letters & Public Comments

July 2018

As reported by The New York Times, this spring, the U.S. Delegation to the World Health Assembly (WHA) undermined a global resolution aimed at supporting breastfeeding, threatening trade sanctions against Ecuador before yielding to a proposal put forth by Russia. Breastfeeding organizations and advocates across the country have raised concerns about the role of industry in international policy and the aggressive tactics of the U.S. delegation. The USBC published a joint letter to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Commerce signed by national, state, and local organizations.

On April 6, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum for federal prosecutors along the southwest border that directed "each United States Attorney's Office along the southwest border—to the extent practicable, and in consultation with DHS—to adopt immediately a zero-tolerance policy for all offenses referred for prosecution under section 1325(a)." As of June 20, 2018, HHS had 2,053 minors separated from their caregiver as a result of the zero-tolerance policy in HHS-funded facilities. The USBC issued a statement and also coordinated a joint statement on the unlawful separation of children and families at the border.

June 2018

The USBC coordinated a sign on letter thanking Senator Duckworth and Congressman Knight for introducing the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act. The FAM Act would require all large and medium hub airports to provide a private, non-bathroom space in each terminal for mothers to express breast milk. The space must be accessible to persons with disabilities, available in each terminal building after the security checkpoint, and include a place to sit, a table or other flat surface, and an electrical outlet. Airports would have two years to comply and would be able to use Airport Improvement Program funds for the purpose of complying with the new requirement.

The USBC coordinated a sign on letter thanking Senator Merkley and Representative Maloney for introducing the Supporting Working Moms Act (SWMA). SWMA would expand existing federal law that requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom place for most hourly wage-earning (nonexempt) workers to express breast milk at work.

April 2018

The USBC coordinated a sign on letter to Anthem, a major health insurance provider, following a significant cut in reimbursement rates for breast pumps. The letter expresses concern that this decrease will have a long lasting impact on maternal and child health outcomes, and in turn, health care costs. An independent licensee of Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anthem provides coverage for about 1/3 of individuals and families in the U.S., including 40 million Medicaid enrollees, 40 million Private Insured members, and millions of others on affiliated plans. The letter was signed by 33 national and 55 state/local organizations.

March 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a public comment opportunity on the topics and questions to be examined in the review of scientific evidence supporting the development of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The 2014 Farm Bill mandated that beginning with the 2020-2025 edition, the DGA expand to include for the first time, guidance for infants and toddlers (from birth to age 24 months), and women who are pregnant. The USBC comments commend the decision to include guidelines for pregnant women and young children from birth to 24 months because the dietary intake during gestation and from birth through two years is essential for building a foundation for life-long health and includes recommendations to better support the creation of guidelines for mothers and young children.

September 2017

Following an extensive public comment process, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a Final Rule updating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime regulations in May 2016. Just before it went into effect, however, a federal judge in Texas granted a preliminary injunction suspending its implementation and the court ultimately held that the Final Rule is invalid. In July 2017, the Department of Labor issued a Request for Information (RFO) on Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees.  The USBC submitted comments in response to the RFI, urging the Department to defend the Final Rule rather than revisiting its provisions through this Request for Information or any future rulemaking. USBC's comments emphasize that by increasing the number of employees who are considered eligible for overtime (nonexempt), the bill would also expand the right to workplace breastfeeding accommodations under the "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law.

January 2017

The USBC coordinated a sign on letter urging the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to amplify the information available to the public and provide additional information on the scope of the protection for employees and requirements for employers under the "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law. These six top priority, simplified recommendations are drawn from the larger list of 20 recommendations that the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent to WHD in August 2015. They fall into two categories: 1) recommendations that simply call for including links to existing federal resources, and 2) recommendations that include language changes or additions from the RFI.

November 2016

The USBC coordinated a sign on letter thanking Congresswoman Herrera Beutler and Senator Ayotte for introducing the Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening (BABES) Act. The BABES Act would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to provide ongoing training to ensure its officers consistently enforce TSA Special Procedures related to breast milk, formula, and infant feeding equipment across all airport security checkpoints. Update: The BABES Act was signed into law in December 2016. The BABES Act is the first breastfeeding-specific bill to go to the floor of either house of Congress as a standalone measure, and was passed via unanimous consent in both houses!

May 2016

The USBC coordinated a sign on letter urging the U.S. Government to support a strong resolution at the 2016 World Health Assembly to 1) endorse the proposed Guidance on Ending the Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infants and Young Children (the “Guidance”), 2) note the importance of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (the “Code”), 3) call on countries to implement the Guidance, and 4) call on the Director-General to report every two years on implementation of the Guidance.

August 2015

The USBC conducted a review of inquiries received on the "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law, and a gap analysis to  assess how existing Department of Labor information sources address questions routinely received from both employees and employers. The gap analysis compared the information currently available on each facet of the law in the DOL's Fact Sheet #73, the associated FAQs, and the 2011 Request for Information (RFI). Based on this gap analysis, the USBC developed, with review and input from the ACLU, 20 recommendations to enhance implementation information available via the FAQs and Fact Sheet  #73. These recommendations were jointly sent to the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division Administrator David Weil.

November 2014

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force posted a draft research plan on primary care interventions to promote breastfeeding for public comment, and joint organizational comments were submitted under the auspices of USBC and the Coalition for Quality Maternity Care. The final research plan is used to guide a systematic review of the evidence by researchers at an Evidence-based Practice Center. The resulting Evidence Review will form the basis of the USPSTF Recommendation Statement on this topic.

June 2013

This letter, co-signed by 33 national organizations and 17 state breastfeeding coalitions, was sent to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Senator Jeff Merkley to thank them for demonstrating their commitment to our nation's mothers and children by introducing the Supporting Working Moms Act of 2013.

May 2012

This letter, co-signed by MomsRising and the National Partnership for Women & Families, was sent to TIME magazine in response to its May 21, 2012 cover story, "Are You Mom Enough?"

August 2011

The USDA Food & Nutrition Service issued a request for public comments on the approach for selecting and awarding local agencies for excellence in WIC breastfeeding services and support. Section 231 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, Public Law 111-296, requires that USDA establish a program to recognize WIC local agencies and clinics that demonstrate exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support activities.

June 2011

The NIH National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) issued a request for public comments on its Vision White Papers. NICHD is collaborating with its many stakeholders to identify the most promising scientific opportunities of the next decade across the breadth of the Institute's mission. The aim of this process is to develop a scientific Vision that sets an ambitious agenda and inspires the NICHD, its many partners, and the research community to achieve critical scientific goals and meet pressing public health needs.

April 2011

The Food & Drug Administration issued a request for public comments on a planned experimental study about certain types of label statements on infant formula, such as those that are either structure function claims or similar to such claims.

March 2011

This letter, co-signed by 38 national organizations and 98 regional/state/local organizations, was sent to leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees asking for $15 million to fund breastfeeding support initiatives in Fiscal Year 2012, from the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

February 2011

The Department of Labor issued a Request for Information seeking comments from the public regarding the recent amendment to the FLSA that requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a place for nursing mothers to express breast milk.

November 2010

On December 6, 2010, the FDA Pediatric Advisory Committee met to discuss donor and banked human milk. FDA is opening a docket to allow for additional public comments to be submitted through January 6, 2011.

Following the recent New York Times article, 45 members of Congress asked the IRS to reverse its decision to allow breast pumps and other breastfeeding supplies to be tax deductible. On January 31, 2011, the IRS overturned the ruling.

August 2010

The Department of Health and Human Services requested comments on its Draft Strategic Plan for 2010-2015. View other comments on the "Open Government at HHS" website.

July 2010

In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, completed a national survey of maternity care feeding practices and policies, entitled the Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) Survey. This was USBC's response to the 2010 Request for Public Comment and Recommendations.

June 2010

This letter was sent to Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Kline, urging the Committee to insert additional language in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation ensuring that USDA has statutory authority to require scientific analysis prior to the authorization of the use of infant foods and infant formula with health claims regarding functional ingredient additives.

December 2009

This letter was co-signed by 37 national and international organizations.

November 2009

These letters, co-signed by 29 national and international organizations and 26 state/territory breastfeeding coalitions, were sent to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Senator Jeff Merkley to thank them for demonstrating their commitment to our nation's mothers and children by introducing the Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009.

September 2009

This letter was sent to President Obama to applaud the creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and to urge consideration of breastfeeding.

July 2009

This letter was sent in reponse to the FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner's request in AAP News for comments on advancing child health.

This letter, co-signed by 17 national and international organizations, was sent to urge the leadership of Healthy People 2020 (HP2020) to provide a “home” for birth and breastfeeding in the suggested HP2020 Topic Areas.

March 2009

This letter, co-signed by 32 national and international organizations, was sent by USBC Chair Dr. Joan Younger Meek to the Atlantic in response to an article published in the April 2009 issue. The article, "The Case Against Breast-feeding," was written by Hanna Rosin.

In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, completed a national survey of maternity care feeding practices and policies, entitled the Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) Survey. This was USBC's response to the 2009 Request for Public Comment and Recommendations.

January 2009

The American Academy of Pediatrics circulated this joint letter to the Internal Revenue Service urging revision of current policy to allow breast pumps and related equipment to be reimbursed under Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). View the IRS response.

October 2008

This was USBC's response to the Request for Public Comments for Use in Preparing for 2009 Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Programs and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

February 2008

This letter was sent by USBC Chair Dr. Audrey Naylor to The Washington Post in response to an article published August 31, 2007. The article, "HHS Toned Down Breast-Feeding Ads: Formula Industry Urged Softer Campaign," was written by Marc Kaufman and Christopher Lee.

September 2006

This letter was sent by USBC Chair Dr. Audrey Naylor to The New York Times in response to an article published September 1, 2006. The article, "On the Job, Nursing Mothers Find a 2-Class System," was written by Jodi Kantor. Read the published Letters to the Editor.

September 2005

June 2005

This letter was sent by USBC Chair Dr. Audrey Naylor to the producers of ABC's The View in response to coverage of the breastfeeding mothers' "nurse-in" staged outside the studio in New York City.

June 2004

This letter was sent by USBC Chair Amy Spangler to the producers of ABC's 20/20 in response to the investigative report, "Milk Money," which exposed the attempts of the infant formula industry to halt the launch of the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign.

This letter was sent by USBC Chair Amy Spangler to thank Secretary Thompson for supporting the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign.

November 2003

This letter was sent by USBC Chair Amy Spangler to thank the Ad Council for its efforts in developing a national advertising campaign to promote breastfeeding.

This letter was sent by USBC Chair Amy Spangler to urge Secretary Thompson to support the scheduled launch of the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign.