Langevin Applauds Defeat of House Republican Farm Bill

Jun 20, 2013 Issues: Animal Welfare, Children and Families, Vote

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today voted against the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act, House Republican legislation to reauthorize the Farm Bill. The legislation failed by a vote of 195 to 234.

The bill extends most major federal farm, nutrition assistance, rural development and agricultural trade programs through 2018 but repeals or modifies several major programs. Most notably, the legislation cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $20 billion.

“This ill-conceived bill would reduce critical assistance to families struggling to put food on their tables,” said Langevin. “While I support many of the provisions included in the farm bill, it is unconscionable that we would force the most vulnerable among us to suffer the biggest burden as we work to achieve greater fiscal responsibility in our farm programs. I am also extremely disappointed that we were not able to vote on the Denham-Schrader amendment that would have protected dozens of state animal welfare laws from invalidation by this bill.”

It is estimated that the $20 billion in cuts to the SNAP, or food stamp, program in the House bill would immediately cut food aid for nearly 2 million Americans, most of them working families living below the poverty level. In addition, 210,000 children would be denied free school lunch and breakfast. By contrast, the Senate version of the farm bill cuts only about $4 billion from nutrition programs.

Earlier this week, Langevin joined several of his Democratic colleagues in participating in the “SNAP Challenge” to draw attention to the harmful cuts. During the challenge, members limited their daily food budget to $4.50, the approximate amount a person relying on SNAP would receive.

“Every member of Congress should experience what it’s like to subsist on such a paltry sum and should understand how the decisions we make affect the lives of hard-working Americans,” Langevin said on the House Floor as the bill was debated yesterday. “When we take food off of the plates of hungry children, we have a moral obligation to fully comprehend the consequences of these actions.”

It is unclear what the next step will be for the farm bill. The Senate passed its version of the bill on June 10 by a vote of 66-27.