McConnell to ‘discuss’ SNAP; House out, but on call

-The Hagstrom Report

The Senate has gone out of session until Monday at 3 p.m., and the House is out until Tuesday at 11 a.m., leaving negotiations over the coronavirus aid package in limbo.

But on Thursday evening Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., signaled that he expects to negotiate with the Democrats on increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits — a key conflict in the agriculture section of the next coronavirus pandemic aid package.

Asked by the PBS NewsHour about reports that as many as 26 million Americans, most of them with children, are not getting enough to eat, McConnell said, “Well, I’m sure, when we sit down to talk to the Democrats, that will be an area we discuss.”

McConnell added, however, that “of course, one thing that is extremely important to make sure children are well-fed is to get them back in school.”

McConnell also noted that “about 20 of my members think that we have already done enough. They are deeply concerned, and it’s understandable, about the size of our national debt now, which is as big as our economy for of the first time since World War II.”

“And so I do have a reasonable number of members who don’t think we ought to do another package,” McConnell said.

“That is not my view. And it’s not the majority of our conference view, nor is it the view of the president. We have divided government, so we have to sit down with the Democrats and work out something. And, hopefully, we will begin to do that before the end of the week.”

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said Tuesday that the Republican HEALS Act is “stunningly silent on nutrition” and that “the Republican agricultural proposal is a nonstarter unless it boosts food help for our families.”

Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., has told The Hagstrom Report that he is open to negotiations about increasing the SNAP benefit, but that he doesn’t want the money to come out of the $20 billion that is allocated for agriculture.

The Senate is scheduled to leave Thursday for its August recess through Labor Day.

The House was scheduled to go out of session today until after Labor Day, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said the House will remain in session until a coronavirus aid package is passed. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told members not to make any plans for next week except to be in session.

The House passed a minibus of the Defense, Commerce, Justice, Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development fiscal year 2021 Appropriations Act today by a vote of 217 to 197.

Hoyer told members that no votes are scheduled, but that “members are further advised that as conversations surrounding additional coronavirus relief legislation continue, it is expected that the House will meet during the month of August. Members will be given at least 24-hours’ notice before the House will be called back to session.”