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GOP resists changes to school lunches

WASHINGTON -- House Republicans are pushing back against Obama administration efforts to promote healthier lunches, saying the Agriculture Department should rewrite rules it issued in January meant to make school meals healthier because they're too costly.

The bill, approved by the House Appropriations Committee late Tuesday, also questions a government proposal to curb marketing of unhealthy foods to children and urges the Food and Drug Administration to limit rules requiring the posting of calorie counts on menus.

The overall spending bill would cut billions from USDA and FDA budgets, including for domestic feeding programs and international food aid. The panel also cut some farm subsidies to cut spending.

Republicans are concerned about the cost of many of the administration's proposals, which they regard as overregulation, said Chris Crawford, a spokesman for the chairman of the Appropriations Committee's agriculture subcommittee, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). The marketing guidelines, released last month, are "classic nanny-state overreach," Crawford said.

The guidelines, which would restrict which foods could be marketed to children, are voluntary, but many companies are concerned that they will be penalized if they don't follow them. The bill questions whether the Agriculture Department should spend money to be part of the marketing effort.

Crawford said he deplored the fact that kids can watch MTV shows that depict sex and drugs, but "you cannot see an advertisement for Tony the Tiger during the commercial break."

The Republican effort would dial back many of first lady Michelle Obama's priorities in her "Let's Move" campaign to curb childhood obesity and hunger.

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