Update on SNAP—Action Still Needed

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

See Action below.

In a significant development, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has floated a proposal for drought relief that might involve a one-year extension of farm bill law with no cuts to SNAP.  At press time, details were not available.  Whether that proposal or other legislative vehicles move forward, the message from anti-hunger advocates must remain “no cuts to SNAP.”

Process:  At press time, the procedural situation leading up to the August recess (starting August 3rd) was fluid. “The top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee signaled Thursday that he would support a Republican-backed one-year extension of the current farm law if it could be used as a vehicle to negotiate a larger comprehensive deal with the Senate…. Under the scenario mapped out by Peterson, the House could next week pass a one-year extension together with drought relief for livestock producers–giving Republicans some protection for their members before going home for the August recess.  The Senate would substitute its five-year farm bill, adopted in June, and ask for a conference. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would then have to decide if he would appoint House conferees who would work from the five-year bill reported from the Ag committee earlier this month.  At his weekly press conference–prior to Peterson’s comments–Boehner said only that he believed the House would address the livestock disaster situation before going home in August. And the speaker again ducked on the question of whether this would be part of the farm bill or a simple extension beyond Sept. 30, when major elements of the current law expire.  Despite this deadline–and the Senate’s approval of its own five-year bill in June–Boehner has refused to bring up the House measure for fear of a messy fight with conservatives on the floor.” See “A new twist in farm bill drama,“ by David Rogers, Politico, 7/26/12 (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0712/79023.html).

Action Needed:  1) Call Members of Congress and urge them to support and protect SNAP, including by voting against any Farm Bill that cuts SNAP.  2) Speak up for SNAP through op eds and letters to the editor.  3) Organize site visits and other events for Members of Congress to meet struggling people who need SNAP.

Contact information for Pennsylvania’s legislators can be found at the following locations:

Learn more at http://frac.org/leg-act-center/farm-bill-2012/.

Threats to SNAP:  Ten-year SNAP cuts total $4.49 billion in the Senate-passed bill (S. 3240) and $16 billion in the House Agriculture Committee-passed bill (H.R. 6083). The $16 billion in ten-year cuts in H.R. 6083 include 1) limiting states’ coordination of SNAP with Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) payments (“heat and eat” policy)(the $4.49 billion cut in S. 3240); 2) an $11 billion cut restricting the Categorical Eligibility (Cat El) option states have to change asset and gross income tests and streamline operations; and 3) a $480 million cut eliminating state bonuses for effective SNAP operation. Based on prior Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections, eliminating “heat and eat” would cut SNAP food benefits for 500,000 households by $90 each month; the Cat El change would cut 1.8 million individuals per year off SNAP and undermine access to free school meals for 280,000 low-income children. An Obama Administration estimate puts the numbers losing SNAP benefits due to the Cat El restriction at two to three million.  For the Administration’s state-by-state estimate of Cat El cuts, see Protecting the Top, Hurting the Hungry, and the Impacts of the House Republican Budget Resolution on Food Assistance (pdf) chart (column one of chart for Cat El).

SNAP Analyses:  Follow these links to FRAC analyses of pending cuts to SNAP broad-based Categorical Eligibility (pdf) and Heat and Eat state options (pdf).

Statements in Support of SNAP:  The “What You Need to Know” box on the FRAC website home page connects to letters, statements, editorials and op eds in support of SNAP.

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