This week, the House will consider the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act, most likely under a closed rule, after aggressively whipping votes in support of the bill last week. There are fairly serious concerns about getting the majority 218 votes needed, as some Republicans find the proposed $40 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cuts to be too steep. If 17 Republicans vote against the bill, it will fail.
Democrats are expected to vote against the bill as a united front with Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) managing the bill for the Democrats. Rep. Fudge has vowed to
“fight it with everything I got.”
Additionally, the Administration weighed in last week, with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stating that he hopes the bill fails and further that it would not survive a Presidential veto.
Should the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act pass, we can most likely expect a one- to two-year extension of the Farm Bill. First, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has already indicated that the $40 billion in cuts will serve as a deal-breaker in negotiations, as the Senate will only accept cuts in the $4 to $10 billion range. Second, should a bill come out of conference with SNAP cuts falling within the Senate’s “acceptable” range, it will not likely pass the House—even with Democratic votes—because the first Farm Bill defeated in the House included $21 billion in SNAP cuts. Third, the Chairwoman has also made clear that conferencing will result in an “all or nothing” bill, meaning that a conferenced Farm Bill must include both agriculture and nutrition titles. Therefore, the Senate will not pass an “agriculture-only” Farm Bill.
Whether the bill passes, House leadership has indicated that it will appoint Farm Bill conferees after October 1. For more information about key legislative and regulatory developments related to SNAP, please read SNAPshot, our weekly publication offering an expanded discussion of SNAP and SNAP-related topics.