Now that the dust has settled on the House Farm Bill, let’s discuss what really happened. It seems that PRIDE *ahem* the PRIDE (Providing relief to Individuals Desiring Employment) amendment was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.” The Farm Bill contained plenty of flawed amendments, but due to the late addition of this particularly flawed amendment, some Democrats changed their vote. Introduced by Steve Southerland (R, FL-2), PRIDE was to “relieve” states of the heavy burden of SNAP benefits by requiring SNAP recipients to work 20 hours. In exchange for providing employment training, states would receive half of the savings provided by the reduced food stamp costs. The opposition to this amendment stated in addition to all the other cuts to SNAP benefits, this amendment was the worst. It did not require states to ensure that people have suitable employment before removing their SNAP benefits. Moreover it incentivizes states to reduce their SNAP numbers in order to increase their intake of federal dollars.
The Vote Breakdown
There were a lot of southern representives who voted in support of this bill. Forty percent of the total "AYE" votes were southern representatives. The majority of the Representatives from Arkansas, Alabama, Florida and Texas voted in support of this bill. EVERY state represented by Southern SAWG had at least one member of Congress who voted in favor of the Farm Bill. Folks we definitely need to educate our Southern Representatives!
To close out this post, we thought it would be good to leave you with some official statements posted by Eric Cantor (R, VA-7) Frank Lucas (R, OK-3) and the author of the PRIDE amendment, Steve Southerland (R, FL-2).
Representative Eric Cantor (House Majority Leader)
"I'm extremely disappointed that Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leadership have at the last minute chosen to derail years of bipartisan work on the Farm Bill and related reforms. This bill was far from perfect, but the only way to achieve meaningful reform, such as Congressman Southerland's amendment reforming the food stamp program, was in conference.
"I strongly supported the Southerland amendment which built on successful welfare reforms that have worked in the past to give states more flexibility and encourage self-sufficiency by increasing workforce participation among those enrolled in the SNAP program. I commend Chairman Frank Lucas and the House Agriculture Committee for their efforts, and am sorry that Democrats shamefully chose politics over progress and meaningful reform."
Representative Frank Lucas (Chairman, House Agriculture Committee)
(Excerpt from June 20, 2013 Press Release) WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013.
"On this day, on this vote, the House worked its will. I’m obviously disappointed, but the reforms in H.R. 1947- $40 billion in deficit reduction, elimination of direct payments and the first reforms to SNAP since 1996 - are so important that we must continue to pursue them. We are assessing all of our options, but I have no doubt that we will finish our work in the near future and provide the certainty that our farmers, ranchers, and rural constituents need," said Chairman Frank Lucas.
Represenative Steve Southerland (The Author of the PRIDE Amendment)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, II welcomed House approval today of his amendment giving states the option to implement work requirements for able-bodied Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries, while denouncing House Democrats for playing politics and killing the underlying 2013 Farm Bill. Southerland’s amendment, which passed the House by a 227-198 margin, was based on the successful work requirements included in the bipartisan welfare reform law of 1996 that reduced welfare caseloads by more than 60% nationally.
“A majority of the House took a stand today on the side of empowering individuals in need with the same sensible work and job training requirements as those included in bipartisan welfare reform of the 1990s. Our amendment provided states with the voluntary option of following a proven path to self-sufficiency, while ensuring the most vulnerable among us receive the support they need in a more efficient and effective manner.
“Unfortunately, some of my colleagues resorted to last minute political posturing and scare tactics that derailed an entire Farm Bill that America’s farmers and agricultural industries desperately need. I remain committed to advancing a Farm Bill out of the House, and to upholding the value of work for able-bodied Americans.”