SNAP Benefits Contentious in House Ag Committee Farm Bill
House Ag lawmakers waged a spirited fight over food stamp cuts Wednesday – as the ag panel moved toward approving its version of the farm bill on a 35 to 11 vote.
On the road to passage – the panel considered numerous amendments – but none as divisive as a bid to repeal a proposed 16.5-billion dollar cut over 10-years in food stamp spending – a fight key to the farm bill’s success. Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern called the reduction in SNAP funding the meanest cut of all…
“It is false to say that these cuts will not affect benefits or that they merely are closing loop holes. These cuts will result in less food for hungry Americans.”
McGovern offered the repeal amendment – arguing two to three-million people will lose automatic eligibility. Republicans countered the cuts weren’t cuts at all – but a two-percent reduction in SNAP that will soar to 800-billion over the next 10-years.
Illinois Republican Tim Johnson called the changes common sense reforms that end abuses that allow states to pump up food stamp rolls and those who won’t truly qualify to get benefits…
“If we don’t deal with the abuse, if we don’t deal with gaming the system, if we don’t deal with bounties and otherwise, the ultimate effect of this is going to be that those people who are legitimately receiving assistance, and if we don’t deal with these issues we will end up with a bankrupt system.”
A handful of Democrats split ranks and joined Republicans to defeat the repeal 15 to 31. A separate bid to adopt the Senate’s much smaller 4.5-billion SNAP cut also died. Chair Frank Lucas defended his 16-billion-plus cut…
“Its not my intention to be part of an effort to make any one who qualifies suffer. But at the same time, we are trying to achieve savings here and trying to compel reforms that touch all areas of this comprehensive Farm Bill. I think that the nutrition title achieves that.”
The Ag Committee – meantime – defeated changes to the bill’s new Dairy Marketing Stability Program, approved amendments to require USDA to factor in FSA office workloads before any new closings, create a new USDA Undersecretary for Foreign Ag Services, require states to verify immigration status of SNAP applicants and to stop states from counting medical marijuana toward SNAP eligibility.