House to vote on farm bill with food stamps revamp next week

House to vote on farm bill with food stamps revamp next week
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The House will vote on a GOP farm bill next week that would impose tougher work requirements on food stamp recipients.

The revamp of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, is considered a legacy item for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOcasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump MORE (R-Wis.), who has sought to enact welfare reform as part of his “Better Way” agenda. 

The farm bill includes language that would tighten the work requirements for millions of food stamp recipients and shift more federal funding toward job training.

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The thinking is that this will help lift people out of poverty and get welfare recipients back on their feet.

But the GOP conference is divided over the changes, with some moderate Republicans worried the requirements are too tough and others worried the changes don’t go far enough.

Democrats have blasted the legislation as nothing more than a messaging bill, noting that the measure stands little chance of passing the Senate. Democrats walked away from the normally bipartisan farm bill process when Republicans decided to include the SNAP revamp, which they say is unnecessarily cruel and would prevent 1 million people from receiving food stamps.

“We will be spinning our wheels to send an ideological message to constituents who want to undercut the ability to ensure that people have food that are hungry,” said Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal House to test Trump's veto pen on Saudi arms sales MORE (Md.), the Democratic whip.

The legislation, which Republican leaders whipped this week, authorizes a number of farm and agricultural programs. But the bulk of the bill’s funding goes toward SNAP, which provides assistance to low-income individuals and families.

“This important bill will re-authorize farm and nutrition assistance programs for five years, while making reforms to modernizing key programs and better support rural America,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyWhite House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal House votes to condemn Trump for 'racist comments' On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses MORE (R-Calif.) said on the House floor Thursday.

Under the measure, all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 59 have to be working or enrolled in a training program for at least 20 hours per week in order to qualify for food stamps. People who are elderly, disabled or pregnant would be exempt from the requirements.

SNAP isn’t the only divisive issue in the bill.  

Battles are also expected over the federal sugar subsidy program, which is authorized by the farm bill and is routinely a fight that cuts across party lines.

Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann Foxx58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill The GOP's commitment to electing talented women can help party retake the House When disaster relief hurts MORE (R-N.C.), a member of the Rules Committee, is pushing for an amendment to reform the sugar program by ensuring taxpayers don’t foot the bill for bailouts of the sugar industry, among other things. The idea has gained some steam among conservatives.

But Rep. Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoThe 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran Conservatives ask Barr to lay out Trump's rationale for census question Overnight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran MORE (R-Fla.), a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, is fiercely pushing back against the amendment, which he warned would be a poison pill if it gets adopted. Yoho was making the rounds on Thursday during floor votes to encourage his Republican colleagues to oppose the provision.

“We prefer they don’t support it, because if they do, it throws the farm bill in jeopardy,” Yoho told The Hill.

It's unclear, however, whether the Foxx amendment will even get a vote. Ryan said that while he supports sugar reforms, he also wants the legislation to be able to pass the House.

“I've long had views that the sugar program needs reforming, but what I am most interested in is getting a farm bill passed into law,” Ryan told reporters during his weekly press conference on Thursday.