SNAP has historically been paired with other aspects of agricultural policy in what is typically known as the Farm Bill. Earlier this summer, the House failed to pass its version of the Farm Bill, having it unexpectedly defeated on the House floor. After that defeat, House leadership decided to pass an agriculture policy-only bill and leave the SNAP provisions out. This makes reauthorizing the SNAP program more difficult because a SNAP-only bill does will not have the same level of support from Representatives from agricultural districts as a Farm Bill that includes needed agricultural policy initiatives as well.
The House Farm Bill failed because most Democrats voted against it as too harsh and dozens of very conservative Republicans voted against it as not harsh enough. The current SNAP Bill tries to appeal to those very conservative Republicans and will likely get no Democratic support. The Senate has already passed a full Farm Bill that cuts $3 billion from the SNAP program over 10 years. Whatever the House passes, it will have to go to a Conference Committee with the Senate in order to get the legislation passed and sent to the President for signature.
In addition to the limits on benefits for ‘able-bodied’ adults referenced above, the House SNAP Bill has numerous other problematic provisions. One is that States who deny able-bodied adults benefits get to keep half of the money that they would have spent on SNAP for those beneficiaries with no strings attached. These federal funds can be used for any purpose. An additional provision changes the way cost of living is calculated, reducing or eliminating benefits for families even if they have very high housing or childcare costs. A third provision bars for life those convicted of certain violent crimes from receiving SNAP. For more information, please read the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities SNAP page.