House Ag Committee Signals Unusual Partisan Split

In a partisan voice vote, the House Ag Committee approved a proposal to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by more than $33 billion over the next 10 years on Wednesday.  The vote came on the heels of a very contentious debate.  Ultimately it lacks legislative meaning as it was part of a budget proposal the Senate will not consider; however, it is an indicator of the partisan rancor present in a traditionally bipartisan committee.  It is certain to flare up again when the Committee takes up the 2012 Farm Bill in earnest and must address SNAP – the program which provide food stamps and free school lunches.

Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) called the cuts “credible reforms that reduce waste and abuse and close” loopholes.  Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN), countered by comparing the proposal to taking “a meat axe” to the program to avoid the defense cuts mandated in last year’s debt-limit law.  The savings would come from both reducing benefits and increasing the requirements for qualification.

CRS Report:  The Role of Local Food Systems in US Farm Policy

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