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updated 12/2/2010 5:11:42 AM ET 2010-12-02T10:11:42

House Republicans have temporarily blocked legislation to feed school meals to thousands more hungry children.

Republicans used a procedural maneuver Wednesday to try to amend the $4.5 billion bill, which would give more needy children the opportunity to eat free lunches at school and make those lunches healthier. First lady Michelle Obama has lobbied for the bill as part of her "Let's Move" campaign to combat childhood obesity.

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House Democrats said the GOP amendment, which would have required background checks for child care workers, was an effort to kill the bill and delayed a final vote on the legislation rather than vote on the amendment.

Because the nutrition bill is identical to legislation passed by the Senate in August, passage would send it to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature. If the bill were amended, it would be sent back to the Senate with little time left in the legislative session.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. said the House would hold separate votes on Thursday on the amendment and the bill.

Republicans say the nutrition bill is too costly and an example of government overreach.

"It's not about making our children healthy and active," said Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee. "We all want to see our children healthy and active. This is about spending and the role of government and the size of government — a debate about whether we're listening to our constituents or not."

GOP to block all bills until tax cuts are addressed

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has also taken a swipe at the first lady's campaign, bringing cookies to a speech at a Pennsylvania school last month and calling the campaign a "school cookie ban debate" and "nanny state run amok" on her Twitter feed.

The legislation would give the government the power to decide what kinds of foods could be sold and what ingredients may be limited in school lunch lines and vending machines.

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The Agriculture Department would create the standards, which would likely keep popular foods like hamburgers and pizza in school cafeterias but make them healthier, using leaner meat or whole wheat crust, for example. Vending machines could be stocked with less candy and fewer high-calorie drinks.

The bill would provide money to serve more than 20 million additional after-school meals annually to children in all 50 states. Many of those children now only receive after-school snacks. It would also increase the number of children eligible for school meals programs by at least 115,000, using Medicaid and census data to identify them.

The legislation would increase the amount of money schools are reimbursed by 6 cents a meal, a priority for schools that say they don't have the dollars to feed needy kids.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Tax cut war: GOP vows to block votes

  1. Closed captioning of: Tax cut war: GOP vows to block votes

    >> you.

    >>> as we mentioned, the war over the bush tax cuts is escalating.

    >> every republican will vote against proceeding to any legislative matter until we have funded the government and protected every taxpayer from a tax hike.

    >> with this letter, they have simply put in writing the political strategy that the republicans have pursued this entire congress. namely, obstruct, delay, obstruct, delay.

    >> a group is trying to hash out a compromise. the group includes treasury secretary tim geithner, jack loo, john kyl , max baucus and david camp as well as chris van holland. mike viqueira is live at the white house . when you compare this to the tone we heard yesterday after the meeting with the president, we didn't hear from harry reid or speaker pelosi . it's the song that democrats have been singing about the republicans. it's obstruct, stand in the way, in the meantime you've got people out of checks that they need to make ends meet.

    >> well, tamron, a few things. first of all, the more things change , the more things stay the same.

    >> right.

    >> politicians are under two competing influences, republicans and democrats on capitol hill . first, the house will put that vote on middle class tax cuts extending those tax cuts on the floor of the house tomorrow. what they r is an extension of the cuts for the wealthy. they're trying to please the people who vote for democrats. mitch mcconnell on the other side of the capitol, the. republican leader, saying hey, wait a minute, we're going to block every little thing that comes up, whether it's the debt commission, don't ask, don't tell, unemployment insurance extension, until we get a vote on those tax cuts and keep the government running into next year. republicans trying to please their base who sent them to washington in very big numbers , of course, back on november 2nd to do just that, to block spending, to keep it to a minimum. all the incentive they feel on their side is to wait until next year when they have those enhanced majorities in the senate and they take control of the house of representatives . coming out of those meetings, they had a meeting this morning. they're going back in later today . here's what tim geithner, the treasury secretary, had to say.

    >> we had a very civil discussion, very much in the spirit of the white house yesterday. no surprises. we went through everything on the table. we were going to come back this afternoon late in the day and continue the conversations.

    >> and so a linkage starting to emerge, tamron. an extension of unemployment benefits for the millions that you just mentioned, 2 million people having their benefits run out. and a compromise, an extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest for one year, two years, three years. that's what they're talking about.

    >> mike, you've got a lot of people wondering how can the republicans say that they're open to compromise as was said after the meeting with the president when there's a letter now saying if you don't do something about the tax cuts , we will do nothing. that would be called a heck of a compromise deal if that's what's on the table.

    >> right. and the interpretation for many people coming out of the election was americans are sick of gridlock. that is the competing influence that i'm referring to. conservatives, tea party candidates, those -- these young fire brands that are coming over and giving these enhanced majority in the house and enhanced minority in the senate to republicans, this is what they want. they want them to stand up for republican principles, lower spending, lower taxes, and not compromise with democrats. so that's why you're seeing this just the day after they walked outside of the west wing and said very nice things about one another. that's why you're seeing these competing impulses and statements today.

    >> quite a contrast. very much different than it was the

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