As expected, there were more fireworks today on Farm Bill related issues in the U.S. House of Representatives as the food stamp/nutrition component of the bill made its way to the House Floor for consideration.
The Food Stamp/Nutrition program, now referred to as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), came to the floor as H.R. 3102, and passed on a 217 to 210 vote. This bill contains nearly $40 billion in cuts to SNAP over ten years compared to the $4 billion in cuts to the Senate legislation.
SNAP was previously voted on in June as part of a comprehensive Farm Bill proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives; however, that vote failed largely due to a perfect storm of opposition between unlikely allies: fiscal conservatives and social liberals. Conservatives argued that the $20.5 billion in food stamp cuts in the bill were not enough while liberals said the cuts were draconian and needed to be reduced.
The Farm Bill which is traditionally comprised of two major components, an agriculture piece and a more controversial food stamp/nutrition piece, was split in two by House leadership earlier this year to separate the more controversial portion of the bill from its less controversial sister. That move fractured the typical bi-partisan voting block of bill supporters who support a comprehensive Farm Bill -- the urban liberals, who generally support the food stamp program and rural conservatives who are generally proponents of the agriculture programs.
The agriculture portion of the bill was voted on and passed in July leaving SNAP as the remaining portion of the bill to be voted on. Given the large difference on SNAP cuts, the House–Senate conference may now be more contentious than expected.
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