House and Senate negotiators reach agreement on farm bill

Greg Nash

House and Senate negotiators said they have reached an agreement in principle Thursday on the farm bill, months after the previous legislation expired.

The bipartisan agreement is expected to be finalized within the next week. It is not expected to include the House GOP’s provision to attach work requirements to the food stamp benefits in the current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Texas) told reporters Thursday evening he is pushing to get the bill voted on in the House before Dec. 7, so it doesn’t conflict with any potential fights over government funding.

Conaway would not confirm the SNAP changes, saying only that compromises had been made.

“We’ve got a conference agreement. They made compromises, I made compromises. The finished product is a lot more important than some sort of false fight,” Conaway said.

Conaway said he expects President Trump will support the final version

House and Senate Democrats had blasted the welfare reform language, arguing the Senate-passed version did not include the changes, while saying the requirements could be detrimental to the safety net relied upon by low-income earners.

The House proposal would have required all adults aged 18 to 59 to work at least 20 hours a week or be enrolled in a training program in order to receive SNAP benefits.

The provision, which was backed by President Trump, caused Democrats to abandon what had in the past been a bipartisan House legislation. It was seen as politically impossible in the Senate, where Republicans need Democrats to pass the bill.

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