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Washington • The U.S. House unexpectedly delayed a vote on a child nutrition bill Wednesday that seeks to improve the quality of school lunches and their availability to lower-income children. Democrats worried that Republicans would have enough votes to change the bill, which would require further Senate action before the year is out and could kill the legislation.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, is one of the bill's opponents, and he took to the House floor Wednesday to argue against it. While he called the goals laudable, he criticized the $4.5 billion legislation for dictating decisions that should be left to local education officials.

"This is not a school board," said Bishop, a retired high school history teacher. "There are great and noble goals within this particular bill but this body is not the only place for great and noble goals to be accomplished."

The legislation, which is at least partially a reaction to first lady Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity, would set new dietary requirements for school lunch, such as leaner meat used in hamburgers and healthier items in vending machines.

If it is signed into law, the Agriculture Department will draft guidelines deciding what ingredients are appropriate and what should be limited. For the first time in 30 years, the legislation would boost the federal reimbursement schools receive. They would get an extra 6 cents per meal.