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WORLD : Senate Acts to Bolster Baby Aid

<i> From Times Wire Services</i>

The Senate early today approved a measure that would prevent close to 250,000 poor pregnant women and infants from being cut from a federal program designed to give highest-risk babies a healthy start.

The Senate voice vote followed House approval of a bill to boost from 1% to 3% the amount states can borrow against next year’s allocation for the Special Supplemental Feeding Program or Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC.

“This is about children,” said Rep. Tony Hall (D-Ohio), chairman of the House Select Committee on Hunger. “Every dollar we spend on the WIC program saves $3 later in health care costs.”

The states administer the program using federal funds, but unexpectedly high food prices absorbed so much of the $2.1 billion appropriated nationwide for this year that some states started cutting all but the most desperate participants from the program.

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