Food stamp bill : House, Senate set farm bill conference. House Republicans and Democrats on Saturday named conferees to the House-Senate negotiations on the farm bill, in a sign that a three-year push to compete an agriculture subsidy and food stamp bill may finally be drawing to a close.
Republicans named Rep. Steve Southerland (Fla.) as a conferee to represent GOP leadership and this is taken as a sign the House will insist on the $39 billion in food stamp cuts in the House-passed bill. Southerland has pushed for cuts to the program and authored a provision in the bill that allows states to impose new work requirements on food stamp recipients. The Southerland amendment ensured that a bipartisan House farm bill would fail on the floor this summer, forcing leaders to split off food stamps and increase the level of cuts.
The House approved a separate farm-only bill July 11 and a nutrition-only bill Sept. 19, breaking the marriage between the two measures for the first time since they were combined.
The House nutrition bill seeks a $40 billion cut to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over five years, a contentious issue among Democrats and some Republicans, who said the cuts were too deep.
The Senate approved sending its version of the $500 billion comprehensive farm bill to conference July 19, and has been waiting for the House to name its conferees.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said he is “pleased to be at this point in the farm bill process” where negotiations with the Senate are about to occur.
“This has been a long and challenging process, but that does not discount the product we have achieved with billions of dollars in savings and reforms, and policy that works for all of agriculture all across the country,” he said in a released statement.
Farm groups across the nation called the House appointment of conferees a sign of progress. But, at the same time, there’s a strong feeling that it’s overdue.
“Appointing conferees might be a sign that, after repeatedly delaying and undermining the agriculture committee’s work, Republican leaders are finally getting serious about the farm bill,” said Ranking House Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn.
He said he’s still hopeful Republicans and Democrats can get a new five-year farm bill finished by year’s end, but, he’s also concerned, because some of the House’s appointments as conferees are outside the agriculture committee.
“Conferees are committed to working together and getting a farm bill done but bringing divisive resolutions to a vote and appointing conferees outside the (House) Agriculture Committee has made our jobs a lot harder,” he said.
Who they are
The House’s Republican appointees are: Representatives Frank D. Lucas of Oklahoma, Steve King of Iowa, Randy Neugebauer of Texas, Mike Rogers of Alabama, Michael Conaway of Texas, Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson of Pennsylvania.; Austin Scott of Georgia, Rick Crawford of Arizona, Martha Roby of Alabama, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Jeff Denham of California, Rodney Davis of Illinois, Steve Southerland of Florida, Ed Royce of California, Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, Dave Camp of Michigan, and Sam Johnson of Texas.
House Democrat appointees are: Representatives Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Jim Costa of California, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Suzan DelBene of Washington, Gloria Negrete McLeod of California, Filemon Vela of Texas, Eliot Engel of New York, and Sandy Levin of Michigan.