First Lady's Food Fight With Congress

Michelle Obama takes on the school meal health crisis.
5:41 | 05/27/14

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Transcript for First Lady's Food Fight With Congress
This is a special room. You know this is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to me not just as First Lady but as the mother. I know that right now -- I have talked to so many parents so many teachers so many kids write me every day. And more families are realizing that we are facing a health crisis. -- I'm Michelle Franzen in New York that was First Lady Michelle Obama stepping up to the Mike. And taking aim at a house Republican sponsored bill that would scale back school lunch food standards. Mrs. Obama is the face of the let's move campaign an initiative -- encourage healthy eating and also fight childhood obesity. She is regularly seen hosting events in and around the vegetable garden the Obama's planted on the White House South Lawn. And with more now we're joined by ABC news political director Rick Klein. -- an active First Lady not shy of being in the spotlight that really so passionate or partisan. Are you surprised she took the initiative today. I am it's. This extent because we're used to seeing those pictures of her -- -- dancing with kids planting vegetables but this is where the rubber hits the legislative wrote this is a different side of Michelle Obama usually. She's out there talking about things that are essentially motherhood and apple -- everyone will agree to should be less childhood obesity. But when it comes to legislation when it comes down to what the federal government is doing about it there's a controversial 2010 law passed with Michelle Obama's blessing that school districts are bristling -- that. Limits the sodium intake that requires whole grains and fruits and vegetables part of the lunch program. It's -- are finding it expensive they're saying kids are throwing out some of the food they're having hard time getting the whole grains in particular that is a move afoot in the Republican led house representatives -- were too. These these law and to allow school districts opt out of it they say it's too expensive for them and that's what Michelle Obama comes in she is weighing in and weighing in heavily against it. Well let's listen to some of that here's the First Lady again speaking about the success she fears this house bill could bring. Our school lunch program cost taxpayers more than ten billion dollars a year. And before these new standards. A lot of that money was spent on meals that had more than the recommended amounts of salt sugar and fat. Meals that weren't meeting basic nutrition guidelines. But today. Thanks to the hard work school chefs. Food service workers across the country. 90% of schools are now meeting modern nutrition stand. To get things. Now Rick first of all that 90% accepted by everyone and Democrats say -- the food industry pushing this bill what do Republicans have to -- Well that's exactly right they're hearing from local districts that are saying this is difficult to do we and it and number it would be quite a bit lower to actually talk to the people. On the ground that's -- behind this a lot of us -- with local control about it. Bristling at the so called nanny state of the federal government coming in here but what Michelle Obama realizes is -- that there aren't that many ways the federal government can directly. Impact what's going into kids' stomachs and that's where school -- come -- that's why this is such an important experiment. And that's why it's so important for the First Lady as she said speaking not just as First Lady but also as a mother not see any backsliding on these standards. And you know as we first noticed she the First Lady mostly shied away from this kind of -- face -- camera politic -- How men -- she convince lawmakers to go along with some of her initiatives. We'll she added benefit of a democratic a congress for the first two years and that's how that law initially passed but what she's now doing is trying to place in defense and to be honest yourself. It's not like this law is set to be repealed. And it did democratic controlled senate would almost certainly not go along with what the house is doing the president. Himself would veto it anyway so this is more about seeking out some moral high ground and also just making sure that movements like this don't get any kind of steam. This is the kind of issue if you talk -- -- the First Lady they know there are some that just get her personally. Oh work -- and angry and and an animated and that's why she's acting right now coming out there on an issue a personal passion. Do we know Rick how involved the president. Isn't in this specific initiative -- does he mostly leave the First Lady and her staff. Or is it more of a priority for the west wing than they might -- on. It's mostly -- priority for the east wing which is why you see Michelle Obama taking the lead in terms of the West Point it becomes on the legislation the president will have Michelle Obama's -- he certainly believes in the policy. They in the Obama -- the Department of Education has been very active in making sure these rules are implemented the way the law was written they have not -- frankly had to weigh in much on the politics because the bill isn't going anywhere. I think Michelle Obama's trying to elevate this right now it -- to squelch it before gates any kind of momentum you can imagine it being the kind of issue where people say look all we -- -- do is be able to say. What we as a school district feeding our kids that's the kind of issue that riles up particularly -- Tea Party base a Republican base. Anyone that believes a local control of schools. So I think it's more about playing defense right now down the road than it is about right now trying to influence the legislative process and just explain a little bit that would be a waiver for some of these schools -- that's right but it would be this is the schools themselves that that it did grant themselves waiver status essentially -- is coming in say. We're been losing money on this -- are having trouble. Fulfilling the program just getting a little bit away over on the idea that Republicans have some of them at least as they see this is a first step to outright repeal maybe the Republicans take over the senate at the end of this year and by next here you have a majority that that does -- -- that's where the president and and the First Lady wants office. ABC news political director Rick Klein thank you thank you. This has been an ABC news digital special report keep up with this story in real time by downloading the ABC news that. And star in this story for exclusive updates on the -- For now I'm Michelle Franzen and New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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