WASHINGTON - The House Agriculture Committee approved a five-year, $100 billion a year farm and nutrition bill earlier this week that allocates roughly 80% to food stamps via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, The Washington Post reports.
The bill passed the committee three weeks after the Senate passed its version of the bill. The focus now turns to the full House as legislators must come up with a consensus bill before the current farm bill expires at the end of September.
The bill cuts about 2% from the $80 billion the government spends each year on food stamps, a reduction the Democrats opposed.
The house bill would save $3.5 billion a year from current spending levels, including $1.6 billion from food stamp benefits. The Senate bill offers $2.3 billion a year in savings, of which $400 million comes from the food stamp program.
The bill included major changes in farm "safety nets," though the committee€™s most heated debate focused on food stamps. Democrats sought to eliminate the proposed cuts.
Rep. Jim McGovern said the cuts would deprive up to 3 million people of food assistance, "literally tak[ing] food away from hungry people."
In response, committee chairman Rep. Frank Lucas stressed the cuts would not impact those who need help. "I believe most Americans will agree that a 2% cut in food stamps is reasonable," he said.