July 12, 2013
In a 216-208 vote on Thursday afternoon, the House passed the Farm Bill without funding for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and other nutrition assistance elements. SNAP and nutrition assistance programs generally constitute about 80% of the Farm Bill, which is reauthorized every five years and mandates funding for farm, food and nutrition programs. Over 500 organizations opposed splitting SNAP and nutrition assistance programs from the Farm Bill; despite this, a united Democratic front in the House was not enough to prevent the bill from passing.
This is an unprecedented move, and it is unclear at this point what the exact repercussions will be. However, yesterday's House vote undoubtedly leaves SNAP in an extremely vulnerable position. SNAP is an appropriated entitlement program and therefore must be authorized, either through the Farm Bill, a separate food and nutrition bill or through regular spending bills passed by Congress. If SNAP is not included in the final version of the Farm Bill (which will need to be reconciled with the Senate's version of the Farm Bill and approved by the Administration for signing), Republicans will be more poised to make hard-hitting cuts to SNAP and other nutrition assistance programs through the regular appropriations process. AIDS United is deeply concerned about SNAP's vulnerability, and will be working with coalition members to ensure that SNAP is preserved and that no further cuts are introduced to put already vulnerable populations at even greater risk.
Click here to read a statement by our friends at Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).