“This doesn’t help." – House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Colin Peterson (D-MN), regarding the Republican nutrition bill’s impact on Farm Bill negotiations
The “Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act,” the House Republicans’ proposal to reform SNAP, is expected to be considered on the House floor next week under a closed rule. As the Republican caucus began to whip votes this week to secure passage of the bill, opponents began lobbying aggressively against the bill, which contains a $40 billion cut to SNAP through tightened work eligibility requirements. Stakeholders such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Food Action Research Center (FRAC) sent letters to Members of Congress, while Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), who will lead the Democrat opposition, pledged to “fight it with everything I got.” No Democrats are expected to vote in support of the bill. If 17 Republicans vote against it, it will fail.
The vote on the nutrition title bill complicates Farm Bill negotiations, as the $36 billion difference between House and Senate in SNAP cuts will be a large gap to overcome. There are indications that Senate Democrats will only find acceptable SNAP cuts within the $4-$10 billion, while House Republicans demonstrated earlier this year that they won’t even accept a $20.5 billion SNAP cut, which was included in the first House Farm Bill that was defeated. At this point, it is most likely that the Farm Bill will have a one-to-two year extension, despite House leadership appointing conferees after October 1, 2013.
From a Wider Lens (How we got here):
- Tuesday, September 10: Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) introduces the “Healthy Food Choices Act,” which would require SNAP to follow the same purchase restriction guidelines as WIC. -- press release via Rep. Roe
- Wednesday, September 11: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sends letters to Members, arguing that the proposed SNAP reform bill is “an affront to human dignity.” -- press release and letter via U.S. Conference of Bishops
- Thursday, September 12: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) confirms on the House floor that he will bring up the nutrition title bill next week.
- Thursday, September 12: In a nod to the famous scene from Network, FRAC’s president Jim Weill publishes an op-ed asking hunger advocates to “get mad as hell” about the nutrition bill. -- full op-ed via FRAC