The farm bill has been shifted from park into first gear with action by the House of Representatives to make cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), driven by conservative demands to reduce spending and put food stamp recipients to work. While the legislation was approved by a slim margin, it allows the Farm Bill to move to a conference committee with the House and Senate. Questions remain whether any House-Senate compromise will be acceptable by either House, as well as to the White House.
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The 2008 Farm Bill should have been replaced a year ago when it expired, but that did not happen and it gained an extra year of life. With a prospective replacement a long way away, there may still be a need to call the 2008 legislation back into service. That is plan B for the Congress, if plan A fails, but plan A is still on the front burner.
The House turned up the heat late Thursday as it approved a $4 billion per year cut in $78 billion per year SNAP funding, at the same time the USDA was reporting more people under the poverty level and particularly more poverty in rural areas. The action came on a vote of 217 in favor of the funding limitations to SNAP versus 210 opposed to the cuts in H.R 3102. There were 15 Republicans who joined all 195 Democrats in voting against the bill.
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