Farm Bill

As Congress returns from the August recess, the House agenda for September will include floor consideration of a nutrition title bill that looks to enact major reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act aims to cut $40 billion in SNAP funding work requirement reforms, as members of the Nutrition Title Working Group signaled before departing for the August recess.

Towards the end of August, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) circulated talking points and background information among the Republican Caucus about the bill. Based on the information shared, the bill will include provisions to enforce work requirements for able-bodied adults without children, eliminate categorical eligibility requirements, halt access to SNAP benefits through Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, eliminate funding for SNAP education and marketing programs, and allow states to include work and job-training requirements as a condition of receiving benefits. The draft bill has been submitted to the Congressional Budget Office to be scored.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has remarked that the House intends to bring the “Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act” to the floor in September, where he expects it to pass. There has been no confirmation, however, that the House Majority Leader has whipped sufficient votes to pass the bill. The Majority Leader also indicated that leadership will appoint conferees to formally initiate conferencing of the Farm Bill, but aides have not confirmed any next steps. Most likely, they are waiting to see if the bill will be successful on the floor.

Currently, formal conferencing of the Farm Bill remains stalled despite the Senate’s initiation of conferencing before leaving for the August recess. Throughout the recess, however, House and Senate Agriculture staff have been engaging in informal discussions about the Farm Bill. Given that there are only nine legislative days in September, and with Syria and deficit reduction on the agenda, there is no expectation that Congress will pass a Farm Bill before the September 30 deadline, nor do we expect a short-term extension to be brought to each chamber’s floor and passed.  Both chambers are working on a deadline of December 31 to either pass a Farm Bill or a one- to two-year extension, with an extension being more likely.

For more information about key legislative and regulatory developments related to SNAP, please also read our Weekly SNAPshot publication.