Lost in the shuffle of last year’s big fiscal cliff deal was the deal that didn’t happen on a new farm bill.
One of the major points of contention was funding for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, run by the US Department of Agriculture. Republicans in the House proposed steep cuts: $16.5 billion over the next decade, which would eliminate food assistance to as many as 3 million low-income Americans. The Senate countered with a farm bill cutting $4.5 billion from SNAP over the same time period.
There was simply no deal to be had on the farm bill, and so Congress passed a simple extension until September 30. Now Congress has to start over—all prior versions of the farm are dead, since there’s a new Congress.
And this time around Republicans are only going to increase, not moderate, their demands for steep food stamp cuts. Representative Frank Lucas, the chair of the House Agriculture Committee, told the Capital Press this weekend that the new House farm bill will mandate $20 billion in SNAP cuts over the next ten years.