The Senate came one step closer to passing a nearly trillion-dollar farm bill Tuesday, but the measure would slash food stamps for hundreds of thousands of households. NY1's Washington reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report.
The Senate's proposed $955 billion farm bill would slash about $4 billion from food stamps over the next decade. Some lawmakers warn those cuts could force struggling families to go hungry.
"Cutting food stamps to families who are in grave need, whether it's children, it's veterans, it's seniors, it's active duty military personnel is not only the wrong approach, but it's immoral," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
The cuts were approved during a Senate Agriculture Committee vote on Tuesday. Gillibrand said she will introduce amendments on the Senate floor that would restore the proposed reductions, which are achieved through tightening eligibility requirements.
Since 2007, the program has grown by 84 percent, to nearly 48 million people. For Republicans, the proposed cuts do not go far enough.
"We should be vigilant to ensure that $760 billion of the taxpayers money is indeed going to help lift those in need out of poverty," said Sen. John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is working on its own version of the farm bill and is expected to make amendments to it this week. Their bill is expected to make the Senate's proposed cuts to food stamps seem like pennies.
The House wants to slash $20 billion from the program over the next 10 years -- five times more than the Senate. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that cut would knock two million people off food stamps.
"We have to fight that and we have to make sure we take it to every state, every district and let them know that their legislator is putting politics ahead of the well-being of their families," Gillibrand said.
The differences could make it difficult for lawmakers in both chambers to reach an agreement.
Last year, the Senate passed a bill, but the House did not, resulting in an extension that is set to expire at the end of September.