Now that House Republicans have passed a farm bill minus the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, what happens to the nutrition program? Although it won't expire and disappear without reauthorization, giving Democrats some leverage in the fight to preserve it, Republicans have certainly set the stage for the marrow-deep cuts they want. Corby Kummer explains
Why not keep the agricultural parts, even if they benefit only industrial agriculture, in what's called the farm bill, and call the food-assistance portion what it is? That would get the farm bill back on the rails, and stop letting SNAP debates hijack every vote.
Here's why not: because that means, as anyone in the anti-hunger community recognizes, pushing the 47 million Americans on food stamps onto an ice floe. The last time Republicans tried to saw off food stamps from the bill, as Jerry Hagstrom recounts in an excellent overview of the most recent farm bill failure, it set back food assistance efforts for more than a decade[.]
That most recent failure, by the way, was in 1996 under Newt Gingrich, when food stamps were peeled off and included in welfare reform, to disastrous effect.
Republicans also included various other gems in their farm-only farm bill, like a provision that would delay improvements in food safety systems and one repealing the part of the law that forces Congress to actually pass a farm bill to avoid dire consequences.
The big question is what happens next. If the House and Senate go into conference on the farm bill, the Senate won't go along with leaving food stamps out altogether. But will the House be able to extract bigger cuts than the $4 billion the Senate already made? If the Senate won't give in to the giant cuts House Republicans want, will John Boehner bring it to a vote? Republicans now have a lot of time and decision points to use in pushing for funding levels that will leave more Americans hungry.