CHN: House Votes in favor of Harmful SNAP Cuts, but Senate Bill Rejects Them
The Senate passed (86-11) its bipartisan version of the Farm Bill on June 28. The bill includes the reauthorization of SNAP/food stamps but without the deep cuts and harmful changes to SNAP that were included in the bill the House passed on June 21. The Senate bill maintains current work requirements and eligibility requirements, unlike the House bill that expanded work requirements and tightened eligibility requirements. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) said the Senate bill “keeps food in the refrigerators and on the tables of struggling individuals and families,” and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) said the Senate bill “improves SNAP by building on what works and protecting the program from harmful cuts that would take food off the table of those who face hunger.” An amendment from Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) would have imposed harsh work requirements and required SNAP recipients to show a photo ID when making purchases; advocates applauded the 68 senators who voted against this amendment. Other harmful amendments that had been proposed, including ones to restrict eligibility and privatize some functions of the program, were not brought up for a vote.
Advocates strongly oppose the House farm bill, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates would cause more than 1 million low-income households with more than 2 million people – particularly low-income working families with children – to lose their benefits altogether or have them reduced. Roughly 265,000 children in low-income families would also lose access to free meals at school. The first attempt to pass this bill in the House failed in May, mainly because some members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus opposed the bill then in order to force GOP leadership to first take up a conservative-backed immigration bill. After the immigration vote (see the related article in this Human Needs Report for more on this), the House voted again on its version of the bill and, as noted above, it passed by a 2-vote margin (213-211) on June 21. For more information about the harsh work requirements and other bad changes in the House Farm Bill, see the May 21 Human Needs Report, CHN’s Protecting Basic Needs resource page, and the recording of a webinar CHN cosponsored with CBPP, Feeding America, and FRAC.
The two bills will now move to a conference committee, where members of the House and Senate will try to work out the differences of the two versions. Advocates like those at FRAC will “continue to urge policymakers to protect and strengthen SNAP and reject the House Farm Bill.”