The House of Representatives has finally passed a farm bill, however the bill passed today does not simply exclude cuts to the SNAP program. It excludes SNAP entirely. And for this reason, President Obama has threatened to veto the legislation.
The bill “fails to reauthorize nutrition programs, which benefit millions of Americans — in rural, suburban and urban areas alike,” said a veto message from President Obama’s budget office. “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a cornerstone of our nation’s food assistance safety net, and should not be left behind as the rest of the Farm Bill advances.”
The Obama administration statement also said the Republican bill “does not contain sufficient commodity and crop insurance reforms and does not invest in renewable energy, an important source of jobs and economic growth in rural communities across the country.”
Although the bill passed today does not cut the SNAP program, it would be a mistake not the embrace the White House’s threat because isolating food stamps from the greater farm bill leaves them wide open to attack.
Without the cover of the obligation to pass an omnibus agricultural spending bill, it will be far more difficult to gather the votes necessary to reauthorize SNAP without making deep cuts to it. Because, like it not, re-authorization must pass through the House of Representatives and it’s unlikely that House conservatives will vote to re-authorize the program without major cuts when the threat of failing to pass an omnibus spending bill is no longer hanging over their heads.
Separating SNAP from the greater farm bill is Eric Cantor’s attempt to dislodge the leverage Democrats hold over the program. Without that leverage, SNAP is almost certainly going to face deep cuts.
And just in case it wasn’t clear — House Republicans are doing everything they can right now to take food away from poor people, most of whom are children, the disabled, or the elderly.
If you’re still on the fence about it, go read this and get back to me.