Sen. Thune: Farm bill still seeking food stamp 'sweet spot'
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2013 - House and Senate will have their work cut out for them in reconciling their wildly different farm bills, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., emphasized today during a media call.
The Senate bill, passed in June, cuts $4 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding over the next ten years. The nutrition title passed out of the House last week, however, cuts $39 billion - creating a gulf almost as wide as the ideological differences between Senate Democrats and House Republicans.
So “where does that number end up? It will maybe split about half - between  and four - high teens, twenties,” he predicted.
But even that may not satisfy enough lawmakers. Cuts will have to be “north” of $20 billion to “attract a number Republicans,” Thune said. And Democrats are “very wedded to there being little, if any cuts” cuts to SNAP funding.
Meeting halfway, then, might not work. “That's too high for most Democrats and too low for most Republicans.” The senator said a conference would be all about finding a “sweet spot.”
But even getting to that conference will require some congressional wrangling. Though the Senate named its conferees last month, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said that chamber might need to reappoint members to conference after the House split its bill into separate farm and nutrition bills.
The House will likely name conferees later this week, perhaps taking the process into Monday or Tuesday. That gives lawmakers only a matter of hours to resolve the farm bill before the current extension of the 2008 legislation expires at the end of fiscal 2012 - on Oct. 1.
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