Stabenow Says Food Programs Will Remain in Final Farm Bill
In addition, Stabenow dispelled any notion that nutrition programs would be left out of the final product of a Senate-House conference.
A bill without the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is one that “we could not pass that through the Senate nor would the president of the United States sign that kind of a bill,” the Michigan Democrat told reporters during the call.
The House bill (HR 2642) that passed 216-208 on Thursday left out anti-hunger programs, including SNAP, while proposing to make crop subsidies permanent.
Funding for SNAP could continue without farm bill reauthorization, Stabenow said. However, the program, formerly known as food stamps, could be “vulnerable” to significant cuts and fights in the appropriations process, she added.
“The policy is written through the farm bill. The funding is done through the appropriations process,” Stabenow said. “The appropriators will still make decisions about how much will be spent. In order to have rational long-term policy and tackle the areas of fraud and abuse we tackle [in a comprehensive bill] you have to have the farm bill passed.”
She noted that there are fewer than 25 legislative days for Senate and House negotiators to work out differences and produce a compromise bill that could be voted on in September. Farm and nutrition programs are operating under a scaled-back extension of the 2008 farm bill that expires Sept. 30.
“Time is of the essence,” Stabenow said.