U.S. Senate Ag Committee’s farm bill draft omits SNAP changes

Author: Marianne Goodland - June 8, 2018 - Updated: June 8, 2018

A store with a sign announcing that it accepts SNAP. (Photo by jetcityimage, istockphoto)

The U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee published a draft Friday of its version of the farm bill that funds programs such as food stamps and farm subsidies. But notable in its absence — as compared to the House version rejected on May 18 — is an omission of major changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program demanded by the Trump administration.

SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, provides food to more than 45 million Americans, including about 475,000 Coloradans, according to the 2016 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Senate ag committee includes Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Denver.

No sponsor is listed on the draft bill, but Sen. John Thune of South Dakota had said previously that he intends to carry the bill.

According to AgWeek, the bill is similar to the version passed by Congress in 2014, although it also includes legalization of industrial hemp and a pilot program to provide produce to low-income people.

The House version of the farm bill, which is usually reauthorized every five years, carried in it an enhanced work requirement for SNAP recipients, based on a demand from the Trump administration. However, the bill failed on a 198-213 vote when about half of the members of the conservative Freedom Caucus voted against it over demands that the House take up unrelated immigration reform.

The House is expected to take another stab at a vote on the farm bill on June 22, although Freedom Caucus members continue to demand a vote on immigration before then.

The Senate version is scheduled for review by the ag committee next Wednesday, June 13. Once it reaches the Senate floor, the bill will need 60 votes to pass, which means at least nine Democrats will have to back the measure even if all 51 Republicans vote for it.

Earlier this week, Ag committee Chair Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas told the TV show “U.S. Farm Report” that the Senate can’t afford the partisan fights seen in the House over SNAP and immigration, meaning the bill will have to omit the SNAP work changes requested by the Trump administration.

But that leaves open the question of what a compromise will look like between the House and Senate, and whether the president will sign the bill without those amended work requirements.

Trump has threatened to veto any farm bill that didn’t include the aforementioned work requirements.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.