House Passes $39 Billion Cut In Food-aid Programs

Cantor and other House Republicans prefer to deal with food aid for the poor separately from subsidies for agriculture. The House bill sets food and farm subsidies on different authorization timelines, a move that would permanently divorce them. Senate Bill The Senate passed a bill that seeks to make changes to federal crop-support and nutrition programs, including the food stamp cuts. That compares with fourfold bigger food-aid reductions in the House bill and $135 billion proposed in a budget the chamber passed that was written by 2012 vice presidential nominee Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin . These cuts would affect a broad array of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including working families with children, senior citizens, veterans, and adults who are still looking for work, the White House said in a statement against the bill that threatened a veto should it get to President Barack Obama s desk. Democrats in Congress have said they wont allow that to happen, and Republicans also said they expect this to be a starting point for House-Senate negotiations. I remain committed to getting a five-year farm bill on the books this year, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas said. The vote was another step toward that goal. No Timeline Aides to House Speaker John Boehner , an Ohio Republican , and Cantor said they didnt have a timeline for when those discussions might formally begin. The latest extension of farm laws dealt with by the bills begins to run out Sept. 30. Senate Agriculture Chairman Debbie Stabenow , a Michigan Democrat, said passage of the House food-aid measure would make it harder for the House and Senate to agree to a comprehensive farm-and-food bill. Some advocates for programs to fight hunger are rooting for those talks to fail, which they say would force lawmakers to extend current policies. My focus is on hungry people and Id rather this thing go down in flames than to see hungry people lose benefits, Colicchio, the Top Chef host, said in an interview. As for Gonzalez, hes trying to settle his debts before returning to school.

Fight Over Food Stamps Has Many Complexities

Commodity-distribution programs are more popular with Republicans than SNAP, and the House bill that cut food stamps contains a bigger increase for TEFAP than the Senate-passed farm bill. But Christian noted that her food banks have to get the other 80 to 90 percent from donations of food or money. That means spending a lot of time on food drives and fundraising, but also dealing with the fact that some donors are very conservative and might not like a combative campaign against SNAP cuts. One of the oddest things about the current battle over food stamps is that, while farm groups opposed splitting the farm bill in two, food companies and retailers that take in the SNAP money through electronic benefit-transfer cards have been silent except for their support of the Food Research and Action Center and other antihunger groups. Christian said the Oklahoma antihunger leaders have explored the idea of local retailers writing an op-ed article pointing out that SNAP is important to their bottom line, but “the economic stimulus argument backfires in a way” and there are fears people may ask, “Are you trying to help the needy, or what are you trying to pull here?” The Oklahoma experience seems to signal that campaigning to maintain SNAP benefits is more complicated and difficult than it might appear. When Lucas held town-hall meetings in Ponca City and Blackwell on Sept. 5, there were no SNAP beneficiaries or antihunger advocates to urge him not to cut food for the needy. “People working three jobs are not going to make it to a town-hall meeting on a Thursday,” Christian said. “People struggling just day to day to get by don’t have the time and the agencies serving them don’t have the time. They are tapped out emotionally. That is why there is such a fractured network for safety nets.” The Oklahoma food banks publicly opposed the $39 billion cut and said afterward that they “look forward to collaborating further with our lawmakers in the conference committee process to minimize negative impacts for the families we serve.” The Senate bill contains only a $4 billion cut, and antihunger advocates expect the Senate and President Obama to oppose a deep cut.