House rejects Dem proposal to restore food stamp cuts in farm bill

Most of the bill, which would spend $940 billion over ten years, is comprised of the SNAP program, a fact that has relegated farm commodity programs to the sidelines. On Wednesday, several House Democrats took to the floor to argue in favor of restoring the cuts in order to ensure needy families have access to food.

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"This is a debate about values and priorities," said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the sponsor of the SNAP amendment. "Let us stay true to our values of compassion, decency and justice. Let us give priority to those among us who are struggling in these hard times."

Most Republicans opposed McGovern's language, and have continued to argue that there is waste in the SNAP program that needs to be trimmed back. Republicans have noted all week that the bill would end the practice of making people automatically eligible for food stamps through the enrollment in other government programs, and also that it would end eligibility for violent criminals.

But Republicans also said the bill is an attempt to rein in a program that has grown dramatically over the last few years, which creates dependency.

"[W]hen we see the expansion of the dependency class in America, and you add this to the 79 other means-tested welfare programs that we have in the United States… each time you add another brick to that wall it's a barrier to people that might go out and succeed," Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said.

Democrats countered that the use of food stamps has expanded because of the slow economy, and said the United States should be embarrassed that there are so many hungry families and children in the country.

"It always is a wonderment to me, that in this, the greatest country that ever existed in the history of the world, that one in four or one in five children goes to sleep hungry at night," Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said.

McGovern's amendment was one of several amendments that were considered Wednesday. Several were decided by voice vote or withdrawn:

— Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), setting the target price for all crops at 55 percent of a five-year rolling average, and setting acreage available for price support at 85 percent of farmers' base acres. Withdrawn.

— Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), codifying an EPA rule that exempts mud and rock runoff from road use from environmental regulations. Passed in voice vote.

— Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), directing the Secretary of Agriculture to study the climate impacts of the Price Loss Coverage program. Failed in voice vote.

— William Enyart (D-Ill.), establishing a National Drought Council and a National Drought Policy Action Plan to streamline the federal response to drought. Passed in voice vote.

— Tom Graves (R-Ga.), prohibiting farm payments to corn growers who sell their crop for ethanol production. Withdrawn.

— Ben Lujan (D-N.M.), allowing small-scale Hispanic irrigators to be eligible for EQIP funding. Passed in voice vote.

— Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), making the ownership eligibility requirement for the Wetland Reserve Program equal to other conservation programs. Withdrawn.

— Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), specifying that the government should give priority consideration for using Emergency Watershed Protection funding for areas affected by floods and wildfires. Passed in voice vote.

— Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), requiring a conservation compliance plan to be filed with USDA for all crops in wetlands and annually tilled crops on highly erodible lands. Withdrawn.

— Dina Titus (D-Nev.), continuing USDA's Hunger-Free Communities grant program, aimed at addressing hunger in communities. Failed in voice vote.