Schakowsky Statement on H.R. 2642, the FARM Bill
Washington D.C. (January 28, 2014) Today the House passed H.R. 2642, a bill to extend and reform farm programs for seven years. While the conference agreement is a major improvement over the House-passed bill, I opposed the legislation because of its $8 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – our nation’s last and strongest line of defense against hunger.
The cuts to the SNAP program are unacceptable. This bill will reduce benefits for approximately 850,000 American families who are struggling to make ends meet. The average household impacted will see its benefits cut by more than $1,000 a year.
I opposed this legislation because it undercuts critical assistance to our nation’s most vulnerable people – most of whom are children, seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans. I have participated in the Food Stamp Challenge – living on the average SNAP benefit for a week. I have met hundreds of my constituents who receive SNAP benefits and food bank operators who tell me they don’t have the capacity to meet increased demand, so I know how difficult it is to get by on such a limited food budget and what a further cut in benefits will mean to American families. After Congress allowed a reduction in benefits in November, the average family of four on SNAP is already suffering with a $400 cut this year. The November reduction was inhumane. This cut just adds fuel to that fire.
The bill is not without its high points: I was happy to see that the final version of the bill removed the so-called “King Amendment” – language that I have spoken out against which would have gutted state laws and initiatives aimed at protecting farm animals from mistreatment. It included another provision making it a federal crime to attend or bring minors to animal fighting events. Both of these were important victories for animal rights. It continues the USAID Food for Peace and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Programs – two of our country’s most important international food assistance programs. The bill also prevents milk prices from going through the roof, which would hurt working families all across the country. I support each of those provisions.
Despite those improvements, I was not elected to increase hunger in this country. I will continue to work to strengthen rather than weaken SNAP.