WASHINGTON — Condemning efforts of the House Republican leadership to introduce a nutrition bill that would reduce spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by around $40 billion over 10 years, Senator Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said, “Enough is enough!” Ms. Stabenow said the nutrition bill would constitute yet another “roadblock” to efforts to bring the Senate and House into agreement on a common farm bill that could pass both houses and be sent to the president for his signature before the current farm act expires on Sept. 30.
Ms. Stabenow said it seemed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia does not want a farm bill.
“I don’t understand their thinking,” she said.
She pointed out the farm bill that was voted down by the House in June would have reduced SNAP spending by $20.5 billion over 10 years, whereas the Senate’s farm bill, which was passed with strong bipartisan support, would have cut SNAP spending by $4.5 billion over the same span. The House on July 11 passed a revised farm bill without a nutrition title. It had been hoped the House and Senate bills would have been brought to conference in September so differences could be sorted out. But now the parameters of a farm bill have become even less clear, Ms. Stabenow said.
She said she was very concerned as the House will be in session only nine days in September. “The clock is ticking” and soon will run out with regard to the reforms and deficit reduction about which that there was at the least substantial agreement, she said.
The Senate voted twice to eliminate direct payments, as did the House. An extension of the farm act would run into stiff opposition from those in the Senate and the House who correctly view direct payments as a “waste of money,” she said.
Ms. Stabenow said she would continue to work with members in both the Senate and the House who want to see a farm bill advanced, but progress she hoped to see in pre-conference discussions during the August recess seemed more elusive.