Democrats in the U.S. Senate sent a message to House Republicans Tuesday that the upper chamber won't accept significantly higher cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., proposed an amendment an amend to farm bill that would have increased projected cuts in the nation's largest nutrition program from $4.1 billion over 10 years to nearly $31 billion. The amendment wrapped in two major proposals in eliminating ties between a low-income heating program, LiHEAP, and eligibility for SNAP. It also would have eliminated the link between SNAP eligibility and acceptance in other, state-based welfare programs.
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The language was comparable to proposed SNAP savings in the House version of the farm bill, but even higher. The House plan cuts $20.5 billion over 10 years.
Democrats defeated the measure 58-40 with the votes of two Republicans -- Agriculture Committee ranking member Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski. Oklahoma's senators were not present to vote following the tornado tragedy in that state.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., showed again she could hold the line to a committee-agreed upon cut on one of the farm bill's most contentious issues. Stabenow also opposed the amendment by fellow Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who had sought to fully reauthorize SNAP at the current levels, without any cuts. Gillibrand proposed to recoup the $4.1 billion in cuts by taking that same amount of money away from crop-insurance companies. Twenty nine Democrats sided with 41 Republicans to reject Gillibrand's amendment 26-70.
Combined, the two votes reflected Stabenow's ability to control the floor and keeps debate moving ahead on the legislation.
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