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GOP Drops Food Stamps From Farm Bill

Updated 12:15 p.m. | House Republican leaders have decided to drop food stamps from the farm bill and are whipping the farm-only portion of the bill for a vote that will likely come this week, according to a GOP leadership aide.

The nutrition portion of the bill would be dealt with later.

The Rules Committee is expected to post the text Tuesday night and meet Wednesday, the aide said.

The “new” farm bill would be the bill as it finished on the floor before the break, with the addition of a repeal of the 1949 law that requires the passage or extension of a farm bill.

Rory Cooper, a spokesman for Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said leadership has not yet decided to schedule a vote.

“There has been no decision made to schedule a vote on a farm bill, in any form,” he said in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas said Tuesday morning that he would support splitting the farm bill — as long as it can pass the House.

“I’m willing to do what it takes to get a farm bill done,” Lucas said as he exited a Republican Conference meeting Tuesday morning. “If that means doing it unconventionally, maybe we got to give it a try.”

Asked whether it was fair to say he supports splitting the farm bill, the Oklahoma Republican replied: “It’s fair to say that Chairman Lucas is at a point where he has got to look outside the box, and splitting the farm bill is certainly outside the traditional box.”

Whether the House splits food stamps off of the farm bill has been the subject of intense speculation. Many conservatives demanded far deeper cuts to food stamps than the House bill included.

House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., had said earlier Tuesday that leadership was still trying to figure out whether they have the votes to split the bill.

“They’re going to whip it and find out,” he said.

Asked whether he thought Republicans would split the bill, Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., said “that’s where folks are leaning, for pete’s sake.”

Pressed on whether he thought there were 218 votes for a split farm bill, Woodall said he thought there were.

“There is something to be said for voting on one issue at a time,” he said.

On Monday, according to a National Review Online story, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., scolded Republican chairmen in a closed-door meeting for not voting for the farm bill when it suffered a surprise defeat, 195-234, in June.

Cantor has privately been pushing to separate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps, from the farm provisions. According to the Congressional Budget Office, SNAP accounts for $743.9 billion of the estimated $972.3 billion cost of the House bill over the next 10 years.

“Cantor believes the best path now is to move forward with a bill that has 218 Republican votes since Democrats proved they cannot be trusted to work in good faith, and that path may be splitting up the bill,” a GOP aide told CQ Roll Call two weeks ago.

Daniel Newhauser contributed to this report.

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