House members Wednesday worked into the night considering amendments to the 2013 Farm Bill, covering topics from crop insurance to nutrition assistance.
While the legislators filed recorded votes on eight amendments and prep to file a few more starting at 9 a.m. Thursday, Rep. Frank Lucas keep momentum high with an en bloc amendment after roll call votes were taken, approving amendments 59, 62-97 and 103.
With no votes scheduled Friday, the House has limited time to move through all amendments to the bill, but Lucas expects to meet the deadline.
SNAP kicks things off
First out of the gate was a hotly debated amendment from Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., to restore the nearly $20.5 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Boasting more than 70 co-sponsors, the delegation took a full 20 minutes for discussion.
Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, spoke against the amendment, explaining that the SNAP cuts housed in the Farm Bill represent decisions made in difficult times.
"The SNAP program does not take one calorie off the plate of anyone who qualifies for the program. We simply close the loopholes that allow states to sign people up into programs without the proper qualifications," Sessions said.
Much interest was drawn to the 2 million low-income people that are expected be removed from the SNAP program if the cuts go through. But Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., attempted to explain the cuts to the opposition, noting that they are based on standing eligibility requirements.
"If you receive some other federal welfare benefit, under present law, you automatically get food stamps. We simply say (in the bill) you have to apply. Demonstrate your income, demonstrate your assets. If you qualify, we'll help you."