House Passes Farm Bill Without SNAP

Jul 12, 2013

By Helly Lee

Yesterday, in an unprecedented move, the House of Representatives passed a five year Farm Bill that focuses just on agriculture issues and omits the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other important provisions that address nutrition. The bill was opposed by all Democrats and 13 Republicans.

A previous version of the Farm Bill that included both agriculture and nutrition provisions failed to pass in the House in June.  House leadership dropped the nutrition provisions from the bill this time around  to  pick up the votes of Republicans who had thought that the original bill’s deep cuts to SNAP did not go far enough. The Farm Bill has historically included both agriculture and nutrition programs and  has received bi-partisan support.

Today’s debate on the bill was especially contentious as Democratic House members lined up to express their opposition to a Farm Bill that cuts out nutrition programs and reiterated that this bill would hurt millions of struggling families, children and elders across the country who depend on these vital programs. House leadership invoked very stringent rules for the discussion that allowed for very limited remarks by members and forbade the introduction of any amendments.

The Republican leadership of the House has indicated that they will take up a separate bill addressing the nutrition provisions in the near future. Many hunger advocates are concerned that this will included even deeper cuts to SNAP than the previous bill.  Alternatively, there may be an attempt to bring the House-passed bill to conference with the Senate bill, which did include the nutrition provisions.

Neither the immediate next steps, nor the long-term path toward a bill that could pass both the House and Senate, are at all clear. What is clear, however, is that regardless of what the process is, SNAP needs to be protected from cuts. To engage in the efforts to protect and strengthen SNAP please visit the Food Research Action Council Legislative Action Center and Feeding America.

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