Democratic lawmakers are calling on House Speaker John Boehner to include funding for nutrition assistance programs in any future farm bill that comes before the House.
In a letter to Boehner Tuesday, 204 House Democrats, led by Connecticut Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, wrote of the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps — citing the more than 47 million Americans on the program and the high percentage of children who participate in the program.
In June, the House voted down a farm bill that included nutrition assistance funding, largely due to disagreements over the level of food stamp cuts in the bill — at the time the proposed cuts were $2 billion annually from the nearly $80 billion a year program.
Subsequently, House Republicans stripped food stamp funding from the bill and were able to pass a bill dealing solely with farm programs in July. The House has yet to pass the SNAP portion of the original bill.
All of the lawmakers who signed the letter to Boehner opposed the farm bill that passed last month without food stamp funding.
“We voted against this bill in large part because of this intentional omission. We strongly believe in the critical importance of SNAP,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote in their letter to Boehner. “Given the essential nature of this program to millions of American families, the final language of the Farm Bill or any other legislation related to SNAP must be crafted to ensure that we do not increase hunger in America.”
They further warned against the coming expiration of the Recovery Act, which served to temporarily increase benefits.
“This means that, beginning November 1st, each SNAP enrollee will see a cut to their benefit that is, on average, less than $1.50 per meal,” they wrote.
House Republicans, led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, have been working to double the cuts to the SNAP program from their first attempt, seeking some $4 billion in annual cuts to the program for the standalone nutrition bill.
According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Republican effort “will take food from the mouths of children and undermine the well-being of millions of families.”
In a statement, Pelosi backed her caucus’ letter to Boehner.
“Democrats are united in seeking a responsible solution to this challenge,” she said. “It is our hope that the Republican response to this letter is focused on how we move forward on behalf of the best interests of hardworking Americans. We must act to fight not to increase hunger in America.”
The Senate’s farm bill, which passed in June, cuts the food stamp program by $400 million annually.