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U.S. House votes to protect food stamp cuts in farm bill

Farm bill being managed by Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas would reduce food stamp spending by $2 billion a year, threatening Democratic support for the legislation.
by Chris Casteel Modified: June 19, 2013 at 10:18 pm •  Published: June 20, 2013

Program criticisms

Republicans have been highly critical of growth in the program and efforts by the Obama administration to recruit people to sign up. Nearly 48 million people receive food stamps, compared to about 19 million in 2000.

Reid Ribble, R-Wis., said food stamp enrollment has continued to grow even though the economy has been recovering for the past few years. In Oklahoma, there were about 613,000 recipients in March — 16 percent of the population.

Feed The Children, the Oklahoma City-based charity, came out against the bill last week because of the food stamp cuts. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill, largely because of the cuts.

Lucas said his committee made reforms to the program to ensure people are qualified to receive the benefits, not to create hardship for the needy.

“We tried in the best way we could to achieve reform and help those who need the help,” Lucas said.

McGovern's amendment would have taken money from farm programs to restore the food stamp funding.

The Senate farm bill, which passed earlier this month, does not include food stamp cuts as deep as the House legislation. A final version will have to be worked out between House and Senate negotiators, if the House vote wins passage.

On farm programs, Lucas persuaded a colleague to withdraw an amendment that would have reduced the target prices for certain crops. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, said the prices were set so high, they could encourage farmers to plant crops based on the subsidies, rather than for the market.

Lucas promised Gibbs to continue to work on the issue, and Gibbs withdrew his amendment.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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