Deal to pass farm bill scraps House GOP for new food stamp work requirements
Lawmakers have struck a final farm bill deal that scraps a plan - backed by House Republicans and President Donald Trump - that would have added new work requirements on food stamp beneficiaries, according to a key GOP Senator.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, chair of the Senate agriculture committee, confirmed Thursday, Nov. 29, that the farm bill deal does not include House GOP plans to add new work requirements for older food stamp recipients and for parents of children age 6 and older.
The Senate and House had been at an impasse for months over the $400 billion farm bill, which allocates federal funds for farm subsidies, food stamps and conservation efforts.
A bipartisan Senate version of the bill did not include the work requirements, which were opposed by the chamber's Democrats.
The four lawmakers leading the negotiations - Sens. Roberts and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee, as well as Reps. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn. - announced Thursday morning they had an agreement in principle.
The White House has also not yet signed off on the legislation, Roberts said.
While some Senate Republicans supported new food stamp limits, the caucus was not willing to jeopardize passage of bill that contains billions in aid for farmers.
Roberts told reporters that the House bill could not have passed the Senate without changes.
"You have to have something that will pass the Senate," he said. "We took a more comprehensive approach."
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mt., a farm state senator, said he was encouraged by news a deal had been reached and had won Stabenow's support.
But the new deal faced immediate opposition from some of the most conservative House Republicans.
Rep. Mark Walker, R-NC, who leads the Republican Study Committee, signaled his potential opposition to the agreement, citing conservative support for stricter work requirements.
"House conservatives, the President, and the vast majority of Americans support policies that encourage work and help lift people out of poverty," Walker said on twitter. "As I've said for months, those provisions have to stay."
Liberal groups have vehemently opposed the proposed restrictions on food stamps, which they say are needed for people in poverty. Between 800,000 and 1.1 million households would have faced food stamp benefit cuts under one of the House Republican proposals, according to a study by the Mathematica Policy Research, a policy research organization.
- - -The Washington Post's Erica Werner contributed to this report.