House Republicans passed a pared down version of the farm bill Thursday by stripping out hundreds of billions in funding for food and nutrition assistance -- a move House leadership had been considering for weeks after the full bill failed to pass the lower chamber last month.
The vote was a move to appease the conservative wing of the party, who argued that funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, which traditionally makes up about 80 percent of the bill's cost, was too high. The final vote was 216 to 208. Every Democrat and 12 Republicans voted no.
The vote provides some political cover to Republicans who took a hit when the popular bill failed unexpectedly in June -- and rural members had to contend with angry constituents over the 4th of July recess. Republicans have told their Democratic colleagues, who objected to Thursday's vote, that they will vote on a separate bill dealing with the nutrition issues later this month, according to the Washington Post. Republicans will likely try to introduce significant reforms and cuts to the food stamp program in that separate bill. The version of the farm bill that failed last month had already cut $20.5 billion from the food stamp portion -- cuts that most Democrats already felt were too deep.
Earlier this week, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said that splitting the bill was a “very bad idea” because it would endanger final passage of the legislation.
Current farm and food aid programs are set to expire on Sept. 30 without Congressional action.