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Thune: Food stamp compromise key to farm bill

Congress will need to find a compromise on the politically polarizing issue of food stamps before a broader farm bill can pass, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Wednesday.

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The Senate earlier this summer passed about $4 billion in total cuts to food stamp aid to the poor over 10 years. Last week, the House passed $39 billion in cuts over 10 years. Many Republicans would like even further cuts while many Democrats oppose any cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, traditionally contained in the farm bill’s nutrition title.

“Where does that number end up?” Thune asked. “Maybe split about middle. Maybe 20 ($20 billion in cuts).”

At the same time, Thune said that level of cuts will likely be too low for most Republicans and too high for most Democrats.

Meanwhile, House leaders have yet to appoint any members to the conference committee that would hammer out differences between the House and Senate versions of the farm bill. The Senate members were appointed earlier this summer.

Thune acknowledged the prevailing thinking that any conference committee is likely to begin meeting next week, just as the current farm bill expires on Monday.