Barring a dramatic breakthrough, farm-state lawmakers will miss their target of enacting the 2018 farm bill in the next six days, according to two of the Senate and House negotiators charged with finding a compromise. SNAP, specifically House Republicans' demands for stricter work requirements for food-stamp recipients, is the major obstacle for the conferees, but there are differences across all sections of the $87-billion-a-year legislation.
There is little point in writing a compromise version of the House and Senate farm bills if it does not include stronger work requirements for food stamp recipients, said analysts from think tanks favoring free enterprise and members of a group of state officials that promotes self-reliance.
Farm bill negotiators are divided over the House Republican proposal for stronger work requirements for food stamp recipients, said Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts on Thursday, acknowledging that Congress may miss an informal Sept. 30 deadline for passing the bill.
With time short for agreement on the farm bill, House Republicans are insisting on a stronger work requirement as a condition of eligibility for SNAP. Over the weekend, House Speaker Paul Ryan said, "[H]aving a work requirement in food stamps, having an education requirement in food stamps, is the best possible way" to put Americans to work.
A nonpartisan research group says that two of the lesser-known provisions at issue during Senate-House negotiations over the 2018 farm bill could reduce food stamp enrollment by 8 percent. Those affected would include large numbers of the elderly, children, and the disabled.
Farm bill negotiators spoke smilingly of comity and compromise while budging not an inch on major issues such as SNAP work requirements on Wednesday during their first, and possibly last, public meeting.
Almost as soon as Congress reconvenes after the Labor Day weekend, the nearly six dozen farm bill negotiators will hold their first public meeting, announced the leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees.
A small group of negotiators will write the final version of the $87-billion-a-year farm bill in the weeks ahead, and they are under pressure from high-ranking conservatives in Congress to require millions of people to work at least 20 hours a week to qualify for food stamps. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said over the weekend that work requirements are "really important" in a booming economy.
As House and Senate farm bill conferees try to resolve their differences over SNAP, the Berkeley Food Institute published a policy brief that shows how some proposed changes to the program would undermine the very things that make SNAP successful.
More than 200 health and medical professionals from across the country sent a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate agriculture committees urging the farm bill conferees to reject the House bill’s expansion of SNAP work requirements.