Rep. Chris Gibson of Kinderhook broke with other Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee Wednesday by supporting a failed Democratic amendment to trim the proposed cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as food stamps.
Gibson supported an amendment proposed by Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon, under which the House would match the program reductions contained in the Farm Bill that passed the Senate last month, according to Gibson’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Valle.
“This amendment represented the bipartisan compromise that was reach in the Senate on the SNAP program,’’ Gibson’s spokeswoman said. “Congressman Gibson supports reform and program integrity changes to the SNAP program to make sure that every dollar is spent most effectively and helps those who need it most. That being said, he also wants to make sure New Yorkers are not disproportionally affected by any changes.’’
The Senate bill reduces future spending on the program by $4.5 billion over 10 years. It would cut benefits to an estimated 500,000 people, including 300,000 New Yorkers.
That’s far less drastic than the House bill, which would reduce the future growth of SNAP by $16.5 billion over 10 years, eliminating food assistance to an estimated 2 million to 3 million people.
Another failed Democratic amendment offered by Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts to eliminate all cuts to SNAP received no Republican support.
House and Senate Republicans say that even with the proposed SNAP reductions, federal spending on the program will continue to grow. SNAP accounts for just over three-quarters of all spending on farm programs.
The current farm bill expires at the end of September, but there’s uncertainty whether Congress can pass a new bill before that date. The alternative is a temporary reauthorization for several months, perhaps until a new Congress is sworn in next year.