The House Farm Bill, which was projected to cut millions of people from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the years ahead, failed when the House brought it to the floor for a vote Friday.
The defeat was a victory for anti-hunger advocates around the country who condemned the partisan bill for its restructuring of SNAP — primarily due to the proposed new work requirements.
The reason many Republicans voted against it actually had little to do with nutrition assistance or farming. The Freedom Caucus wanted House leaders to commit to vote on new legislation pertaining to immigration. One local GOP Congressman, however, opposed the Farm Bill for the same reason Foodlink and hundreds of other anti-hunger organizations around the country did. Rep. John Katko, whose district covers Wayne County and areas east near Syracuse, issued this statement after the 213-198 vote:
“Our region’s farmers and growers contribute significantly to Central New York’s economy and I’ve proudly fought for their interests in Washington. The Farm Bill before the House today included critical relief for our dairy farmers by improving the Margin Protection Program. It prevented cuts for crop insurance that CNY farmers heavily depend on, and it strengthened programs for apple and other specialty crop farmers. I was proud to advocate for these reforms, and applaud their inclusion in the bill that the House voted on today.
“Despite these wins, I voted against this bill because I simply cannot ignore the devastating rate of poverty in my district. With nearly 18% of all households in NY-24 dependent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), I could not look past the provisions in this bill which would alter this program significantly and result in a crushing blow to the thousands of individuals and families in our community working to raise themselves out of poverty. We cannot give the most vulnerable members of our community yet another disadvantage.
“This is the beginning of the process, not the end. While the bill failed to pass through this chamber today, I am hopeful that both sides can come together to bring a bill to the President’s desk that will both strengthen our region’s farming communities and ensure that those who rely on SNAP are able to feed their families and work towards a better life.”