With no votes to spare, the House of Representatives passed the Republican-s sponsored legislation, the “Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013,” that cuts approximately $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps) over 10 years.
The majority of the cuts come largely through provisions that significantly affect states. Nearly half of the cuts are the result of reinstating limits for able-bodied adults without children. These adults would be limited to up to three months over a three-year period unless they work more than 20 hours per week or are in a job-training program. The bill reduces the availability for state waivers in this area even for states that have a high unemployment rate.
The debate in the House was very acrimonious and there is concern that it may not have helped in the effort to finish the farm bill this year. Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said that he was committed to getting a five-year bill on the books this year and “Today’s vote was another step toward that goal.” However, Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN), ranking member of the committee, said “All this bill is going to do is make it harder, if not impossible, to pass a new farm bill this Congress.” The White House said it would veto the bill.
The cuts in SNAP will be the major issue in the House-Senate farm bill conference with the Senate bill cutting $4 billion and the House $39 billion. After the House failed to pass a farm bill earlier this year, the nutrition title was striped from the House-approved farm-only farm bill in July. The House now needs to combine the nutrition-only bill and the farm-only farm bill and ask the Senate for a conference to reconcile differences between each chamber's farm bills. The House leadership has yet to name conferees.
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