The White House has endorsed the House farm bill ahead of a contentious floor debate, saying the legislation would provide certainty to farmers while imposing “common-sense work requirements” on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
“In contrast to previous farm bills that have contained minimal reforms to SNAP work requirements, H.R. 2 is clearly a step toward meaningful welfare reform,” according to the statement of administration policy (SAP) issued by the White House.
In a major victory for farm groups, the statement is silent on the fact that the legislation would not make any of the cuts to crop insurance included in the president’s budget.
The White House endorsement could help House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, pass the bill while fighting amendments to cut crop insurance and tighten commodity program payment limits.
The House Rules Committee on Tuesday approved the first of two rules for the floor debate. The first rule provides for consideration of 20 relatively noncontroversial amendments. The second rule, which the committee is scheduled to consider Wednesday afternoon, will determine which of the more controversial amendments, including those cutting crop insurance or rolling back the sugar program, are allowed to be debated.
The bill would require all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 59 receiving SNAP benefits to be employed or in job training unless they are a parent caring for a child under age 6.
The SAP noted that the bill also contains additional provisions that were included in the president’s budget, including elimination of “broad-based categorical eligibility,” which allows states to enroll people in SNAP if their incomes exceed the federal eligibility limit of 130 percent of the poverty level, which is $2,213 a month, or about $26,600 a year, for a family of three.
The SAP also praised the bill for eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program and including provisions to reduce “overly generous payments” to landowners who have acreage enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.
President Donald Trump's advisers would recommend he sign the bill if it reaches his desk, the SAP adds, but the Senate Agriculture Committee's leaders have said the SNAP reforms cannot pass that chamber.