Senate Votes on Food Stamps Could Mean Larger Cuts Coming

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. points to pictures of devastations in New York from Superstorm Sandy as she testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, before the Senate Homeland Security subcommittee hearing to examine Superstorm Sandy, focusing on response and recovery and progress and challenges. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)  
National Journal
May 21, 2013, 6:30 p.m.

In de­bate on the farm bill Tues­day, the Sen­ate re­jec­ted a Re­pub­lic­an pro­pos­al to in­crease cuts in the food-stamp pro­gram. But it re­jec­ted by an even big­ger mar­gin a Demo­crat­ic ini­ti­at­ive to elim­in­ate the food-stamp re­duc­tion al­to­geth­er.

The votes could pave the way for the Sen­ate to agree in con­fer­ence with the House to a cut in the Sup­ple­ment­al Nu­tri­tion As­sist­ance Pro­gram, more com­monly known as food stamps, that is lar­ger than the $4 bil­lion over 10 years cur­rently in the bill on the Sen­ate floor.

The Sen­ate bill would save the $4 bil­lion largely by tight­en­ing up on the state-gov­ern­ment prac­tice of ty­ing food-stamp be­ne­fit levels to en­ergy as­sist­ance.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., pro­posed an amend­ment to in­crease the cut in food stamps from $4 bil­lion to $31 bil­lion. The amend­ment would have ended the use of en­ergy as­sist­ance as a basis for food-stamp be­ne­fit levels and elim­in­ated oth­er prac­tices and pro­grams.

Roberts said that the amend­ment “would help rein in the largest ex­pendit­ure with­in the USDA budget,” but Sen­ate Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said she strongly op­posed the amend­ment. It failed in a 58-40 vote.

The Sen­ate then voted on an amend­ment offered by Sen. Kirsten Gil­librand, D-N.Y., to elim­in­ate the $4 bil­lion cut in food stamps and pay for the in­creased cost with a cut to the crop-in­sur­ance pro­gram. Gil­librand has called her cam­paign to stop any food-stamp cut a “mor­al” is­sue, but Stabenow, who had ar­gued that the states have been tak­ing ad­vant­age of the sys­tem, op­posed the move.

Stabenow, who fa­vors ex­tend­ing crop in­sur­ance to a broad­er range of crops, in­clud­ing fruits and ve­get­ables, said that cuts in both food stamps and crop in­sur­ance should be lim­ited to elim­in­at­ing fraud and ab­use. While a third of the Sen­ate co­sponsored Gil­librand’s amend­ment, only 26 sen­at­ors voted for it and 70 op­posed it.

The Sen­ate’s de­cision to give Gil­librand few­er votes than Roberts would seem to open the door to a big­ger cut to the food-stamp pro­gram.

The bill ap­proved by the House Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee would cut a total of $20.5 bil­lion from food stamps by tight­en­ing up qual­i­fic­a­tion stand­ards. The size of the food-stamp cut that will emerge from the House floor de­bate is un­cer­tain, however, be­cause tea-party-ori­ented House Re­pub­lic­ans want an even big­ger cut, per­haps $36 bil­lion over 10 years, while lib­er­al House Demo­crats want to elim­in­ate all cuts or mir­ror the cuts in the Sen­ate bill.

Get­ting her col­leagues to agree to vote on food stamps on only the second day of de­bate on the farm bill was an ac­com­plish­ment for Stabenow, but dis­cus­sion and votes on crop in­sur­ance, sug­ar, dairy, and oth­er is­sues re­main.

“We will con­tin­ue to move for­ward do­ing everything pos­sible to com­plete this le­gis­la­tion by the end of the week,” Stabenow said.

What We're Following See More »
BREAKING WITH THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AFTER TRUMP INSULTED THE SENATOR
McCain Family to Endorse Biden
34 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

"The late Sen. John McCain's family plans to support former Vice President Joe Biden's White House bid, backing the Democrat not only in his party's crowded primary race but also in a general election matchup with President Trump, the Washington Examiner has learned. In an extraordinary snub to Trump, who derided McCain's Vietnam War service and mocked him even after his death last August at age 81, the McCain family is preparing to break with the Republican Party. McCain represented the party in Congress for 35 years and was chosen as its presidential nominee in 2008, losing to Barack Obama."

Source:
LEGAL BATTLE BETWEEN THE WHITE HOUSE AND CONGRESS LOOMS
IRS Resists Giving Congress Trump's Tax Returns
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin left little doubt Tuesday that the administration will reject a congressional request for President Donald Trump's tax returns by a self-imposed May 6 target for a "final decision," setting the stage for a legal battle that will test the limits of congressional oversight."

Source:
CALLS CONGRESS "VERY PARTISAN"
Trump Opposes White House Aides Giving Congressional Testimony
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Trump on Tuesday said he is opposed to current and former White House aides providing testimony to congressional panels in the wake of the special counsel report, intensifying a power struggle between his administration and House Democrats. In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump said that complying with congressional requests was unnecessary after the White House cooperated with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference and the president’s own conduct in office."

Source:
GAG RULE WOULD HAVE KEPT CLINICS FROM REFERRING WOMEN TO ABORTION PROVIDERS
Judge Blocks Trump Abortion Rule
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane late Tuesday said he’ll grant a preliminary injunction against new federal restrictions that bar taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion providers, calling the rule a 'ham-fisted approach to public health policy.' Oregon is one of 20 states and the District of Columbia that challenged the Trump administration’s changes to the Title X family planning program in U.S. District Court in Oregon, along with Planned Parenthood affiliates and the American Medical Association."

Source:
WANTS IT BY MAY 1
Nadler Subpoenas Unredacted Report
5 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login