I’d like to report that the Farm Bill went down in the U.S. House because of proposed draconian work requirements to be foisted on those receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps).
No, that wasn’t the case. It had to do with immigration, believe it or not. Far-right members of the Freedom Caucus wanted to force a vote on immigration and held the Farm Bill hostage as a bargaining chip. Thirty of them voted with the Democrats to scuttle the bill. Those thirty conservatives also thought the bill didn’t go far enough in taking food out of the mouths of kids, as they opposed the amount of spending on SNAP. From VOX:
Conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity came out against the bill ahead of the vote, calling it a “missed opportunity” and decrying its “wasteful subsidy programs.”
At least Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte didn’t vote with the Freedom Caucus. What he did vote for was a bill that would require adults to spend 20 hours a week either working or in a job training program for the average $125 in food stamps per person a month. This would include single parents who would need to find day care while working or training. Problem is, reports the Washington Post:
Democrats and anti-hunger advocates say most states do not have the capacity to scale up either case management or training programs to this extent. As a result, they argue, hundreds of thousands of low-income adults could end up losing benefits. Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office support some of these concerns: Even 10 years from now, the office predicts, states will only have training slots for 80 percent of the people who need them.
Last year, 40 million people used the program, totaling about $70 billion in spending. About 120,000 received SNAP benefits in Montana in 2015, the most recent number available.
Here’s hoping that at Gianforte’s next Bible study group, they trot out Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”