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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Report Shames GOP Reps Who Voted To Cut Food Stamp Assistance To Millions Of Americans

Pork Barrel Politics

Representative George Miller (D-CA) released a report on Monday profiling 14 Republican representatives who voted in favor of the farm bill earlier this month for self-gain.

In his Pork Barrel Politics report, Miller charges these select Republicans with voting for a bill that they themselves benefit from, while eliminating assistance for millions of low-income Americans under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Miller writes in the report, “The 14 Republican members of Congress who voted for the FARRM Act and personally receive government subsidies have received an average of $515,279 in benefits.”

Earlier this month, House Republicans succeeded in passing the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act by a narrow 216-208 margin in the House. The final bill was stripped of food stamp and nutrition programs that assisted 47 million Americans. The bill had zero support from Democrats, and 12 Republicans voted against the measure because it didn’t make enough cuts.

Representatives voting in favor of the bill include Stephen Fincher (R-TN), who has personally received over $3 million in farm subsidies from the Farm Bill — yet represents a district where 22 percent of residents will see a cut to the SNAP benefits they rely on. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), John Kline (R-MN), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Tom Latham (R-IA), bill sponsor Frank Lucas (R-OK), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), Mac Thornberry (R-TX), and David Valadao (R-CA) also voted in favor.

Miller explains in the report, “Since 1973, Congress has always included both farm subsidies and nutrition aid in the Farm Bill, but after an embarrassing defeat on the House Floor late last month, House Republican leadership stripped the entire nutrition title from the new Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act that narrowly passed the House with only Republican support.”

H.R. 2642 passed the House with $196 billion in subsidies that would solely benefit the wealthiest farmers and agricultural businesses. The same bill cuts $20 billion out of the food stamp program that benefits millions of Americans whose income falls below the federal poverty line. Last week, the Senate passed a more moderate version of the House Farm Bill totaling only $4 billion in cuts to the food stamp program.

Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said of the Farm Bill’s passage in the House, “The bill passed by the House today is not a real Farm Bill and is an insult to rural America, which is why it’s strongly opposed by more than 500 farm, food and conservation groups.” Stabenow continued, “We will go to conference with the bipartisan, comprehensive Farm Bill that was passed in the Senate that not only reforms programs, supports families in need and creates agriculture jobs, but also saves billions more than the extremely flawed House bill.”

The Senate and House committees now head to conference, where they will have only six legislative weeks before the current farm bill expires. In that time, they must agree on a bill that includes food aid, otherwise the tiny fraction of wealthy agricultural business owners — as well as the 14 affluent Republican members of Congress highlighted in Miller’s report — will benefit at the expense of millions of low-income Americans.

(Image via Congressman George Miller website /Pork Barrel Politics Report)

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