On Thursday, the House approved their farm bill with SNAP/food stamp restrictions by a vote of 213-211, HR 2. The vote was directly tied to the immigration debate as conservatives had sunk the bill last month because of unmet demands on immigration.

Estimates are that the House bill will cut SNAP by $19 billion. CWLA opposed the bill that was opposed by a range of children’s groups. Among the reason for opposition by children’s groups: restrictions on categorical eligibility meaning a costly and delayed process of asset testing for SNAP which means many families will lose eligibility because of process; increased restrictions on SNAP which results in some poor and low-income children losing access to school meals; more restrictive work requirements that change existing SNAP work requirements harming childless adults which in turn could harm vulnerable youth; indirectly hitting up to 13 million school-aged children on SNAP because it expands work requirements to adults with school-aged children; and along with youth aging out of foster care, unaccompanied, homeless youth.

At the opposite end the Senate has a reauthorization drafted in a bipartisan spirit by Chairman of the Agriculture Committee Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). The bill attempts to strengthen some workforce training programs but stays away from the more punitive approaches of the House. It attempts to streamline some of the requirements for states and some populations such as the elderly. The Committee version passed by a vote of 20 to 1.

After House passage, Chairman Roberts congratulated his counterpart Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX) on the House action and said he looked forward to a House-Senate Conference on their differences once the Senate takes up its bill on the floor. The Senate bill (still unnumbered) is scheduled for the beginning of the Senate floor debate on Tuesday, June 26.