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Congressional negotiators announced on Monday that they’d reached a deal on a farm bill that saves $24 billion over the next decade and includes an $8 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – the program responsible for providing food stamps to millions of Americans nationwide.

“Today’s bipartisan agreement puts us on the verge of enacting a five-year farm bill that saves taxpayers billions, eliminates unnecessary subsidies, creates a more effective farm safety net, and helps farmers and businesses create jobs,” head of the Senate Agriculture Committee Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said.

Over the summer, tensions mounted as the Democratic-controlled Senate passed legislation that would have cut the food stamp program by $4.1 billion over 10 years, while the GOP-controlled House introduced a nearly-five-times-greater $20 billion cut over the same time period.

The House is expected to vote on and advance the bipartisan deal, with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) calling the bill a “step in the right direction.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said the bill’s new provisions “will reduce the deficit and cut waste and fraud, all while protecting hungry children and families.” He and others also say that the new energy-assistance provision finally closes a SNAP loophole Congress never intended for – one that some argue increases welfare fraud. 

The proposed bill raises the amount to qualify for additional SNAP benefits from $1 in federal heating assistance to a minimum of $20, closing what has been called the “Heat and Eat” loophole. This will cut benefits for approximately 850,000 households by an average of $90 a month.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill sometime next week, but Democrats seem more split over their support for the compromise.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), and a member of the farm bill conference committee, says the Senate needs to “concentrate” on passing the “sound, balanced, bipartisan bill.”

Some of his colleagues, however, feel that the yearly $800 million food stamp cuts are just too steep. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) blasted the cuts and accused the negotiators of “trying to ram this thing through before anyone has a chance to read it.”

The bill also includes $200 million in funding for 10 states to begin job-training pilot programs and an additional $205 million in increased assistance for food banks.

AFP Photo/Scott Olson

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy

Screenshot from Aug. 25, 2020 edition of Daily Kos / Youtube

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

A federal district judge in New York ruled Monday that the U.S. Postal Service has to treat election mail as a priority, another loss for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in the courts. The judge, Victor Marrero, also ordered that overtime and extra deliveries had to be permitted by the USPS as election mail demands. This came in a suit brought by several candidates for office and New York voters against Donald Trump and DeJoy.

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