With scaled-back farm bill passed, House GOP turns to cutting food stamp program
WASHINGTON (AP) — House approval of a scaled-back farm bill is setting up what could be an even bigger fight over food stamps and the role of domestic food aid in the United States.
Food stamps have been a part of farm bills since the 1970s to gain urban Democratic votes for the rural measure. But that union has soured this year as the food aid has exploded in cost and House Republicans have taken aim at the program. Normally bipartisan, farm bills have become much less so.
Republican leaders in the House won passage of the smaller farm bill on a party-line vote Thursday by dropping a section of the bill that dealt with food stamps, saying they would deal with that issue in a separate bill. After rallying most of his caucus to vote for the farm portion of the bill, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Republicans would "act with dispatch" to get a food stamp bill to the floor.
It remained unclear what a food stamp bill would look like, how it would move through the House or how quickly lawmakers could craft a bill. While Democrats have opposed any cuts to the $80 billion-a-year program, designed to give people temporary food assistance when their income falls beneath a certain level, Republicans have proposed many different approaches to trimming it. The program has more than doubled in cost in the last five years as the economy faltered and now serves around 1 in 7 Americans.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., has pushed the idea of a split bill for more than a year. A farmer, he has maintained that Congress should consider food stamps by themselves.
Posted on Fri, July 12, 2013