Legislative Activity

House Farm Bill.

On July 12, the House narrowly passed a revised “agriculture-only” Farm Bill (H.R. 2642) by a vote of 216 to 208, with 12 Republicans voting against the bill. The bill repealed the 1949 Act, which would authorize commodity programs to be permanent law. Less than 218 votes were needed to pass the bill because of absences. In strong opposition to the Republican leadership splitting the Farm Bill into an agriculture bill and a nutrition bill, Democratic members formed a united front and all voted against the bill. The Republican leadership, however, cited that this approach was the only way to get the bill to conference, although it remains unclear their strategy for conference.

Questions are now surfacing about how the House plans to directly address funding and reform efforts of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP), which currently makes up close to 80 percent of all Farm Bill funding. In the near future, it is likely that Republican members could introduce a SNAP reform package to overhaul the system, including reforms to eligibility requirements (i.e., inclusion of work requirements), significant changes in funding allocations to states, and possibly considering whether the program should maintain its permanent law status. The effort would most likely be led by Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), as well as Reps. Steve Southerland (R-FL) and Steve Scalise (R-LA).