House won't do food stamp bill before August recess

The House will not produce legislation reforming food stamps before the August recess in a setback for those seeking a quick revival of the stalled 2013 farm bill.

A House GOP leadership aide said Friday that conversations over the food stamp program would continue over the recess that begins at the end of next week. 

An earlier attempt to draft a stand-alone food stamp bill before that time have been shelved, the aide said.

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The delay past August makes it increasingly unlikely that the farm bill can be passed by the time current programs expire on Sept. 30. 

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) has been polling members on what the bill should look like and has participated in a small working group convened by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). The group met again this week without resolution.

The House this month passed a farm bill by a razor-thin margin after stripping out the controversial food stamp title. The original Lucas bill cut the $764 billion food stamp program by $20.5 billion over 10 years, but that was not enough for some Republicans and too much for most Democrats. 

The Senate is ready to go to a House-Senate conference committee with its own farm bill that cuts just $4 billion from food stamp programs. 

The House-passed 2014 budget would have cut food stamps by $135 billion over 10 years by block granting the programs to the states and capping the federal contribution. 

While some conservatives would like to see that amount in the new stand-alone bill, other rural Republican lawmakers like Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) say cutting that deep will just kill the farm bill.