Lucas Signals GOP Nutrition Deal- Stabenow Calls Concept a Roadblock to Final House Senate DealThu, 01 Aug 2013 14:26:34 CDT
House Republicans plan to propose a $40 billion cut to the nation's food stamp program, so says Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas who serves as the Chairman of the House Ag Committtee. Thsi would doubling the number of cuts proposed by the House Ag Committee that was reported out to the House in June.
Committee Chairman Frank Lucas said legislation on the food assistance program, known as SNAP, would be the second part of any talks on the U.S. farm bill with the Senate. Lucas told lobbyists during a lunch speech in Washington that a Republican working group agreed on cuts expected to total $40 billion and could include steps such as mandatory drugs tests and employment rules.
The House on July 11 passed a farm bill that was limited only to agricultural support programs, leaving out food stamps altogether. The two elements are typically twinned, as they were in the Senate version that was passed in June.
Lucas said staff-level work toward reconciling the two chambers' bills would continue during the upcoming five-week congressional recess - pre-conferencing before formal negotiations between the House and Senate commence. "I think we'll make great progress," he said.
The Senate bill called for $4 billion in cuts to the food stamp program.
Because of the huge difference between the two versions, "this may be one of those issues that ultimately needs a little guidance from on high," Lucas said, referring to Republican House Speaker John Boehner, Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader and the White House.
Lucas concluded it would be difficult to complete the bill before current farm law expires on September 30.
Meanwhile- U.S. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., made the following statement after reports of a House Republican agreement on a nutrition bill that would cut $40 billion from food aid programs.
"There they go again. Apparently, the Republican Leadership plans to bring up yet another political messaging bill to nowhere in an effort to try and placate the extreme right wing of their party. Clearly they have no interest in compromise or actual legislating.
"Adding an additional $20 billion in nutrition cuts, on top of the poison pill nutrition amendments that brought down the Agriculture Committee's bipartisan farm bill in June, effectively kills any hopes of passing a five-year farm bill this year.
"I've repeatedly told these guys, we don't have to do this. If the House would just name conferees, members can conference the House "farm only" bill with the Senate's farm bill during August and produce a compromise for both Houses to pass. Through today's action, the House Majority has clearly shown they have no interest in getting a farm bill done. The American people should be outraged."
On Thursday afternoon, Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow called the possible $40 billion cut in the Nutrition programs a roadblock being laid down by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. She indicated that the uncertainty of this proposal would likely mean less progress in any "pre conference" discussions that will be held with the House.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the opening statement from Thursday afternoon from Chairlady Debbie Stabenow.
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