House panel rejects conservative attempt to double food stamp cuts

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) led a successful effort on Wednesday to defeat a conservative attempt to double the food stamp cuts in the House farm bill, an effort that could have sunk the legislation.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) offered a conservative amendment to double the cuts to food stamps, bringing the total to $33 billion in cuts. It was defeated in a 13 to 33 vote, with 13 Republicans joining all the Democrats in opposing the additional cuts.

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This spring, the committee endorses the same cuts in a bill intended to replace automatic defense and non-defense cuts slated to hit Jan. 2.

But Lucas and the other GOP opponents said they did not want to upset the “balanced” deal with Democrats this time around.

“We will have squandered one real chance of getting beyond the  $4 billion in cuts in the Senate bill,” Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said.

The new cuts would end increases in food stamps due to the Obama stimulus package and shift training costs to the states.

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) said the additional cuts were “now going to get into the pockets of people who truly, truly need it.”

She urged her colleagues to volunteer at food banks to become more sensitive.

GOP Reps. Tim Johnson (Ill.), Jeff Fortenberry (Neb.), Glenn Thompson (Penn.), Tom Rooney (Fla.), Scott Tipton (Colo.), Rick Crawford (Ark.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Randy Hultgren (Ill.), Bobby Schilling (Ill.) and Kristi Noem (S.D.) also voted against the conservative amendment.