Niagara Gazette — The Senate bill would cut the food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, by about $400 million a year, or half a percent, and Senate Democrats have been reluctant to cut more. The farm bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee last month would cut the program by $2 billion a year, or a little more than 3 percent, and make it more difficult for some people to qualify.
In his statement Monday, Boehner signaled support for the House bill's level of food stamp cuts, saying they are changes that "both parties know are necessary." Other Republicans are expected to offer amendments to expand the cuts, setting up a potentially even more difficult resolution with the Senate version. At the same time, Democrats are expected to try and eliminate the cuts.
Food stamps were added to the farm bill decades ago to gain urban votes for the rural measure, which sets policy for farm subsidies, programs to protect environmentally sensitive land and other rural development projects. But with the program's exponential growth during the recent economic downturn, food stamps are now making passage harder.
"I expect it to come from all directions," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said last month, acknowledging the complications of moving the bill through his chamber.
On the Senate floor, senators rejected amendments on food stamp cuts, preserving the $400 million annual decrease. The bill's farm-state supporters also fended off efforts to cut sugar, tobacco and other farm supports.
Senators looking to pare back subsidies did win one victory in the Senate, an amendment to reduce the government's share of crop insurance premiums for farmers with adjusted gross incomes of more than $750,000. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said their amendment would affect about 20,000 farmers.