The final food stamp savings are generated by making it more difficult for states to give recipients a minimal amount of heating assistance in order to trigger higher food stamp benefits. The cuts were brought down to $800 million a year to come closer to the Senate version of the bill, which had $400 million in annual food stamp cuts.
Still, many liberal Democrats were also expected to vote against the bill, saying the food stamp cuts were too great.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., a longtime proponent of food stamps, said he would vote against the bill and would encourage his colleagues to do the same.
"They are trying to ram this thing through before anyone has a chance to read it," he said after the bill was released late Monday and scheduled for an early Wednesday vote.
A coalition of powerful meat and poultry groups, generally strong supporters of the legislation, also said Monday they would work against the bill after the heads of the agriculture panels did not include language to delay a labeling program that requires retailers to list the country of origin of meat. Meatpackers say it is too costly for the industry and have fought to have the program repealed in the farm bill.
Despite that opposition, Boehner and Cantor are hoping to corral enough votes to get the bill done. Cantor blamed the Senate for not accepting the House's attempted changes to the food stamp program but said he would support the bill.
Boehner said he had hoped reforms in the bill would go further, but the legislation was "worthy of the House's support."
Lucas helped win Boehner's support by jettisoning a portion of a dairy program overhaul that the speaker firmly opposed. Negotiators have spent the past few months figuring out how to work the dairy program so Boehner and other key lawmakers would support it.
The new program would do away with current price supports and allow farmers to purchase a new kind of insurance that pays out when the gap between the price they receive for milk and their feed costs narrows. But it would not include a so-called stabilization program that would have dictated production cuts when oversupply drives down prices. Boehner called that "Soviet-style" and made it clear it was a deal-breaker for him.
"If I should expire in the next three days I want a glass of milk on my tombstone because it's what's killed me," Lucas said Monday night of negotiations over the dairy program.
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