Full House and Senate budget committees approve bills
The House on Oct. 5 approved a fiscal year 2018 budget which the Food Research & Action Center said would hurt hungry people.
The House budget contains specific cuts to the agriculture budget and FRAC president Jim Weill said, “The budget resolution passed by the House today will push millions of already struggling people deeper into poverty, and without question, will make hunger far, far worse in this country.
“It inflicts harm on children, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, working families earning low wages, and people looking for work,” Weill said. “It includes massive tax cuts heavily tilted toward the wealthy that will increase inequality and build pressure to reduce spending that helps the neediest Americans.”
“SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is one of the nation’s very best investments, and it is unacceptable that this proven and effective program is on the chopping block,” he said. “The budget includes instructions to the House Agriculture Committee to make $10 billion in cuts over 10 years to programs in its jurisdiction — a reduction clearly pointed at SNAP. The budget also calls for another $150 billion in SNAP cuts through benefit and eligibility restrictions and structural changes.
“We call on Congress to right this wrong and reject this budget. In the months to come, FRAC will be working with allies in agriculture, nutrition, conservation, rural development, and other anti-hunger and anti-poverty groups across the country to defeat this budget that causes such deep harm to the nation now and in the future,” Weill said.
The Senate Budget Committee also passed its budget resolution. The budget does not call for specific cuts to agriculture or nutrition but Congressional Budget Office reports indicate it assumes cuts to agriculture over time.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., defended the budget on the grounds that it does not contain specific cuts and that the bill will pave the way for tax reform that farmers need.
“I am pleased that our committee will not receive reconciliation instructions to bring our spending in line with the resolution under consideration,” Roberts said.
“There is widespread, bipartisan agreement on the need for tax reform,” Roberts said. “We ought to put aside partisan obstructionism, and take action on something in which a majority of Americans agree: Our tax code is burdensome, confusing and outdated. The framework proposed by House and Senate leadership targets tax relief to hardworking Americans. In addition to this relief, farmers and ranchers will also benefit from elimination of the death tax and improvements to expensing requirements.”
The House and Senate will each need to approve budget resolutions initiating the budget reconciliation process to allow the Senate to consider tax reform with a 51-vote threshold, Roberts noted. Once the budget resolutions are approved, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee will begin writing and marking-up the actual tax reform language, he added.
Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said “this budget would target our farmers and ranchers for an additional $21 billion in cuts.”
“And that doesn’t even include cuts to nutrition assistance, which puts food on the table for millions of families,” she said. ❖