The final vote on the House farm bill is expected Thursday, and National Farmers Union lobbyist Chandler Goule says passage hinges largely on how open Republicans make the amendment process, particularly on cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Goule says House Democrats hoping to reduce the House Ag Committee’s $20.5 billion in SNAP cuts during the amendment process will likely be voted down by House Republicans. But by keeping the amendment process open, Republicans offer Democrats an opportunity to state their position to constituents by voting against SNAP cuts, and by voting to pass the House farm bill with the hope that reductions in SNAP cuts will be more likely in conference.
Goule also observes that Republicans appear to be about 10 votes short of the 218 needed to clear a final vote, which could come as early as Thursday. While the votes to pass a farm bill may not be there yet, Republicans do have enough to bring it to the floor.
I think this could be a nail-biter. I think it may pass in a single-digit margin, maybe 10 votes. I mean, I – this is not going to be a landslide vote, in my opinion.
The White House has also weighed in through a statement of Administration policy out from the Office of Management and Budget. The document is dismissive of the House farm bill; it states that if President Obama were presented with the legislation, his senior advisers would recommend he veto it. The White House prefers that savings be found in trimming farm subsidies, rather than by cutting from SNAP. Legislators like Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts maintain that SNAP will cut benefits to needy families and remove 2 million people from the program.
Between 2005 and 2010, Americans eligible for SNAP and receiving benefits from the program increased by 13 million people, from 25 million to 38 million. The number of Americans eligible for SNAP and not participating rose by the same amount, from 38 million people in 2005 to 51 million people in 2010.
Total participation rose from 65% of all eligible Americans in 2005 to 75% in 2010. Benefits provided by the program to all eligible individuals also rose from 80% in 2005 to 94% in 2010, which USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service says demonstrates that the neediest Americans eligible for higher benefits are participating at higher rates than those eligible for lower benefits.