Policy: Entitlements

House to vote separately on food stamps, farm bill

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Beltway Confidential,House of Representatives,Agriculture,Entitlement Reform,Entitlements,Ashe Schow,Farm Bill,Food Stamps

"The farm bill is a reflection of how bad Washington works," Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., a former member of the House Agriculture Committee, said Tuesday during a weekly meeting at the Heritage Foundation. "And so just to separate the bill, it really is a huge change to the way Washington operates and I think that's why this is such a big deal."

A farm-only bill could be posted Tuesday night by the Rules Committee and could receive a floor vote later this week, a House Republican leadership aide told the National Journal. Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., had said earlier in the day that he would support splitting the bill if it meant it could pass the House. "If there are not 218 votes, if there is no assurance of success, why try the effort," Lucas told Politico.

The farm bill failed in June for multiple reasons: Some representatives thought the bill cut too much from the food stamp program, while others felt it cut too little.

Still others said the bill contained too few reforms of farm subsidies. Splitting the bill has since become the preferred solution to addressing multiple concerns.

But splitting the bill is not the end of the story. Food stamp spending has increased exponentially in the past decade and has not declined with the unemployment rate. "In 2002, the food stamp bill  the food stamp portion of the bill cost about $260 billion. In 2008, it was up to $480 billion. And in this particular bill, it's $780 billion," Stutzman said.

On the farm policy side, it appears that there will not be a new debate for reform. "Leadership is saying we debated those issues, we voted on amendments and we're not going to go back and reopen after that. I think that's their position," Stutzman said.

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