House Committee Approves Farm Bill With Food Stamp Cuts

The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday approved a sweeping farm bill that would trim the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program. The panel rebuffed Democratic efforts to keep the program whole, as debate on the farm bill turned into a theological discourse on helping the poor.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news begins with the future of food stamps.

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INSKEEP: Late last night, the House Agriculture Committee approved a version of the farm bill that would cut $2.5 billion from the food stamp program - which is known by an acronym, S-N-A-P - SNAP.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It is a huge program - about $80 billion a year, serving nearly 47 million Americans. This would be the biggest cut to the program in 15 years.

INSKEEP: Now the cost of that program has more than doubled since 2008, due to the recession - we're told - as well as higher food prices and expanded eligibility for it - which became an issue Republicans used against President Obama in his re-election campaign.

GREENE: And that partisan divide was fully evident yesterday during a nine hour debate on the bill. It turned philosophical - even biblical - about the role of government in the lives of the poor. Representatives from both parties at times quoted scripture.

INSKEEP: Ultimately, the Agriculture Committee did pass this farm bill with the cuts to the food stamp program intact. There will definitely be more debate as the bill comes before the full House.

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