A stripped-down farm bill was passed through Congress last night by a narrow 216-to-208 vote. It removed any food stamp protections, decreasing the per-year cost of the bill from $100 billion to about $20 billion.
The bill also repealed laws originally written in the 1930s and '40s that provided incentives to continually update the farm bill. But the bulk of the shouting on the floor yesterday was over the future of food stamps, known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "You are taking food out of the mouths of your own poor constituents."
The congressional bill will now have to be merged with the version recently passed by the Senate. (Yes, this is a bewilderingly drawn-out process.)
As the New York Times reported:
House and Senate negotiators could produce a compromise measure with the robust food stamp program the Senate wants, but such a bill would almost certainly have to pass the House with significant Republican defections. Asked before the vote Thursday if he would allow a compromise bill to come to a final vote in the House, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio shrugged and said: "If ands and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas. You've heard that before. My goal right now is to get the farm bill passed. We'll get to those other issues later."
Perhaps using a food analogy wasn't the most sensitive move on Boehner's part.
Read Rick Paulas' explanation of all the myriad issues in this year's Farm Bill here.