Entitlement Funding and Its Appropriateness for the WIC Program

CED-78-98: Published: Apr 13, 1978. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 1978.

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Entitlement legislation requires the payment of benefits to any person, state, or local government meeting requirements established by law. Once enacted, entitlement legislation automatically creates legally enforceable claims to benefits and effectively preempts Congress' formal process of deliberating funding levels and appropriations. GAO has consistently taken the position that the public interest is best served through congressional control of programs and has advocated that programs be financed through periodic direct appropriations. According to officials of the Department of Agriculture, the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children is not considered an entitlement program because it operates within a funding ceiling. The program was created before the passage of the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and the increased concern and awareness for budgetary control that have resulted.

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