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House Republicans Eye $40 Billion Nutrition Cut in Farm Bill Fallout

Updated 5:44 p.m. | House Republicans are eyeing a $40 billion cut to nutrition programs over 10 years — double their earlier proposal and 10 times what Senate Democrats are proposing — as they look to pass a bill reauthorizing food stamps after the August recess, lawmakers said.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said the plan is to bring up the nutrition bill in early September. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was severed from the farm bill after objections from conservatives demanding deeper cuts. Cole said his understanding was that no matter how the bill fares at the hands of members, the plan would be to go to conference with the Senate thereafter.

House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said a working group that had been convened to find a path forward had made a breakthrough, but cautioned legislative text still needed to be drafted.

“Clearly the working group now believes that they have something that the house has a 218 consensus on,” he said.

Lucas added that with nine legislative days left when Congress returns after the August recess before current farm and nutrition aid funding is set to expire, “this needs to come to resolution.”
“Majority Leader Cantor and Chairman Lucas have worked with members to present a stand alone nutrition bill building on those reforms already considered by the House,” said Cantor spokesman Doug Heye. “That will include common-sense measures, such as work requirements and job training requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents receiving assistance, that enjoy a broad range of support,” he said.
States would no longer have the ability to get a waiver for work requirements to get food stamps for able-bodied adults without dependents. The work requirements would apply to approximately 4 million people in 40 states and save $20 billion over a decade.

“There they go again,” said Rep. Collin C. Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the Agriculture Committee. “Apparently, the Republican leadership plans to bring up yet another political messaging bill to nowhere in an effort to try and placate the extreme right wing of their party. Clearly they have no interest in compromise or actual legislating.

“Adding an additional $20 billion in nutrition cuts, on top of the poison pill nutrition amendments that brought down the Agriculture Committee’s bipartisan farm bill in June, effectively kills any hopes of passing a five-year farm bill this year.

“I’ve repeatedly told these guys, we don’t have to do this. If the House would just name conferees, members can conference the House ‘farm only’ bill with the Senate’s farm bill during August and produce a compromise for both Houses to pass. Through today’s action, the House Majority has clearly shown they have no interest in getting a farm bill done. The American people should be outraged.”