Breaking News on Farm Bill: Gillibrand Amendment Coming Up for Vote—Calls Needed!

From the Food Research and Action Center (http://www.frac.org):

Pursuant to a Unanimous Consent agreement that was agreed to in the Senate last night, the Senate will proceed to vote on some 70 amendments to the Farm Bill (S. 3240) starting at about 2:15 ET today.  These include the Gillibrand SNAP benefit restoration amendment as well as several negative SNAP amendments.

In addition, yesterday, details of the House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill that is likely to be marked up on June 27th circulated; $14 billion in SNAP cuts reportedly are on the table.

This email provides information about the Farm Bill outlook and action steps.

Senate Farm Bill

Starting this afternoon, the Senate will proceed to vote on Farm Bill amendments, alternating between those offered by Democrats and Republicans.  Only six of the amendments (none involving SNAP) will require 60 votes for adoption.  Most require only a simple majority.

Gillibrand Amendment (SA #2156)

The Gillibrand amendment to restore $4.49 billion in SNAP benefits has been gaining momentum and now is cosponsored by 15 other Senators:  Lautenberg (D-NJ), Schumer (D-NY), Reed (D-RI), Wyden (D-OR), Boxer (D-CA), Menendez (NJ), Brown (R-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Kerry (D-MA), Lieberman (I-CT), Sanders (I-VT), Merkley (D-OR), Nelson (D-FL), Cardin (D-MD).  Failure to adopt the Gillibrand amendment would result in SNAP cuts of $90 per month on average for 500,000 households.  Follow this link to more information on the Gillibrand amendment.

Draconian Amendments

A major threat to SNAP is posed by Sessions amendment (SA # 2172), which would eliminate the broad-based Categorical Eligibility state option in SNAP, thereby resulting in reinstitution of SNAP asset tests in many states.  FRAC opposes Sessions SA # 2172.

Two negative amendments would end SNAP high performance awards to states (Sessions SA # 2174 and Boozman SA # 2360).  The latter would redirect funds to TEFAP.  A positive amendment offered by Nelson (D-NE) (SA # 2243) instead would preserve state SNAP bonuses and specify how they could be reinvested to improve SNAP operations.  FRAC opposes Sessions SA #2174 and Boozman SA #2360, and supports Nelson SA #2243.

House Farm Bill Outlook

Details of the package with $14 billion in SNAP cuts that the House Agriculture Committee is expected to mark up on or about June 27th were circulated yesterday.  The proposal would set s $25 minimum for a LIHEAP payment to trigger higher household SNAP benefits.  It also would limit Categorical Eligibility rules to cash assistance cases, thereby reinstituting SNAP asset tests for most households and removing state authority to set higher gross income tests (the House bill would set asset tests at $5,000 and $7,500 – the latter would apply to households with members who are elderly or have a disability) as well as set gross income test at 140 percent of the federal poverty line.  Background on states’ use of Categorical Eligibility options is included in FRAC’s Smart Choices in Hard Times.  The House package reportedly also would end state performance bonuses and end annual price inflation adjustments for SNAP nutrition education.

Momentum and Strategies

Your collective efforts have been making a difference!  Growing numbers of Senate cosponsors on the Gillibrand amendment, editorials in opposition to SNAP cuts in The New York Times and the Seattle Times, statements from Members of Congress, and SNAP support letters from AARP and grocery retailer groups (Food Marketing Institute and National Grocers Association) are signs of growing momentum in the fight to protect and strengthen SNAP.   To access information about SNAP support efforts, visit the Farm Bill section of FRAC’s website.

Take Action!

Your continued efforts will be crucial in the coming hours and days.

  • Urge Senators Casey (http://www.casey.senate.gov) & Toomey (http://www.toomey.senate.gov) to vote “YES” on Gillibrand SNAP amendment SA # 2156 and Nelson SA #2243 and to vote “NO” on Sessions SA #2172, Sessions  SA # 2174, and Boozman SA # 2360. CALLS TO WASHINGTON ARE BEST.
  • Contact your Representative in support of SNAP (find contact information at http://www.house.gov).

Thank you for your support in the fight against hunger!

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