Yesterday the Senate passed the 2012 Farm Bill, a five-year authorization of a number of agricultural programs, on a 64-35 vote. The final bill reduces the federal deficit by $24 billion over the next decade and includes $4.5 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. As detailed in a previous CWLA blog post, those cuts will mean that approximately 500,000 families receiving food stamps will lose about $90 per year in benefits. An amendment offered by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) that would have restored funding to SNAP was defeated 33-66.
Another provision in the bill, sponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and John McCain (R-AZ) requires the Obama Administration to provide more information about the sequestration cuts scheduled to go into effect in January, 2013. It requires the White House to produce a report to Congress by the end of October detailing how it would implement the sequestration cuts so that Congress will have more information about their impact. Earlier this year CWLA produced a similar report (which can be found here: http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/StateCharts.pdf) with state-specific charts estimating how sequestration might effect a number of child welfare-related programs.
Now that the Senate has passed the Farm Bill, the focus will turn to the House. The House Agricultural Committee is currently scheduled to mark up its version of the bill on July 11. Any differences between the House and Senate versions would have to be reconciled and approved by both chambers, and the window for completing action before Congress recesses for the elections will be closing quickly.