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Peterson predicts farm bill doom after GOP pitches food stamp plan

WASHINGTON — The plan would double food stamp cuts in hopes of enticing more Republican support; Peterson said it could kill the bill.

Rep. Collin Peterson: “I don’t see how we get a farm bill at the end of the day. I could be wrong, but I don’t see it.”
REUTERS/File/Mike Theiler

WASHINGTON — A Republican plan to move a food stamp bill with double the cuts they rejected last month will endanger the entire farm bill this fall, Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said Thursday.

That Peterson would say that is no surprise: He has opposed GOP leadership’s handling of the farm bill for some time, especially since the House rejected the bill in June and split its agriculture and food stamp provisions into two separate bills last month. But he said the GOP’s new plan for $4 billion in annual food stamp cuts (about 5 percent) will not only further alienate Democrats but cause whiplash for Republicans should a House-Senate food stamp compromise ever come back to the floor for a vote.

“This is not going to help,” he said. “I don’t see how we get a farm bill at the end of the day. I could be wrong, but I don’t see it.”

Here’s where we’re at on food stamps: Senators included $400 million in annual food stamp cuts in their farm bill, which passed in June, and Democrats in that chamber have long rejected the House’s original $2 billion in planned annual cuts.

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The problem is, House Republicans objected to those cuts as well. When the farm bill came to the House floor in mid-June, 62 Republicans voted against it, calling for deeper reductions, and the bill failed.

So, in order to entice more Republican support, House leadership is proposing to cut food stamps even further than originally planned, even though cuts in the original plan were already too large for the Senate. So even if the House and Senate can find some common ground on food stamps, the cut will be far smaller than the one Republicans were willing to support in the first place, Peterson said, which could imperil the bill if it comes back to the GOP-controlled House.

“If I could see what they were trying to do and it made sense, then I could probably find a way to go along with it,” he said. “But you’re alienating people on both sides in this process and I don’t see how you come up with the end product.”

The House adjourns for its August recess on Friday. The food stamp bill could come to the floor for a vote when lawmakers return in September.

Devin Henry can be reached at