Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Washington Beat: House's Approved Farm Bill Without Food Stamp Funding Angers Some

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TWC News: Washington Beat: House's Approved Farm Bill Without Food Stamp Funding Angers Some
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One day after the House passed a farm bill that didn't include food stamps for the first time in decades, Democrats are trying to plot their next move. Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Hunger relief advocates were outraged by the GOP's controversial vote Thursday to strip the farm bill of food stamps.

"If you're poor and you're on food stamps, the vote yesterday says, 'We don't care about you,'" said Edward Cooney of the Congressional Hunger Center.

It was the first time in decades that legislation to re-authorize farm subsidies didn't include nutrition programs.

So what is going to happen next? Senate Democrats want the House to go to the bargaining table and negotiate their recently passed Farm Bill, which includes money for food stamps, also known as SNAP.

"I'm hopeful that we bring the bill to conference and that in that conference, we can advocate strongly for the SNAP portion of the bill," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Some House Republicans who voted for the stripped-down Farm Bill agree that a conference is the likely next step, and they believe Democrats actually go into it with the upper hand.

"Quite candidly, at this point, the stronger hand when it comes to the SNAP, also known as food stamps, is actually with the passed version in the Senate," said New York Rep. Chris Gibson.

Still, it's unclear if negotiations will result in an agreement. The Senate bill cuts food stamps by $4 billion across a decade, far less than what Republicans want.

If no deal is reached by the time the current food stamp program expires in September, it's likely lawmakers will be forced to agree to a short term deal that funds food stamps at their current level.

All of this raises questions about why Republicans removed food stamps from the bill in the first place. It comes down to politics and the embarrassment GOP leaders suffered when the House rejected the initial farm bill last month.

"They could not get their own caucus to support the Farm Bill, and so the only way they were able to do it was to completely all the funding for food stamps and get their caucus to support it," said Darrell West of the Brookings Institution.

Now, Republicans find themselves in another fight with Democrats. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP