(NAFB)--The U.S. House approved the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013 on a very close vote of 217 to 210. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas says the vote was another step toward his goal of getting a five-year farm bill on the books this year. He says the House bill makes commonsense reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that encourages and enables work participation, closes program loopholes and eliminates waste, fraud and abuse while saving the American taxpayer nearly 40-billion dollars. Lucas says SNAP does serve an important purpose to help Americans who are struggling - which is why it’s equally important to ensure the program is working in the most effective and efficient way.
Ahead of the vote Thursday - House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson made his strong opposition to H.R. 3102 known - calling the bill another example of the Republican Majority’s misplaced priorities. Peterson noted his nearly four years of work on the farm bill and his belief it would be possible to find middle ground and make reasonable, responsible reforms to nutrition programs. But according to Peterson - the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act isn’t reasonable or responsible. Peterson added there is no reason to pass the bill. He said H.R. 2642 could be conferenced with the Senate’s farm bill and added that H.R. 3102 wouldn’t go anywhere in the Senate or be signed by the President. Peterson said all the bill would do is make it harder - if not impossible - to pass a new farm bill this Congress.
On the other side of the Hill - Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow said this kind of partisanship has never before been injected into a farm bill. She called the House bill a shameful attempt to kick millions of families in need off of food assistance and a monumental waste of time. Echoing Peterson - she said the bill will never pass the Senate and will never be signed by the President. The good news - according to Stabenow - is that the farm bill is closer to the finish line. If House Republican leaders drop the divisive issues, appoint conferees and work with the Senate in a bipartisan way - Stabenow says Congress can finalize a farm bill that creates jobs, reforms agriculture policy and reduces the deficit by tens of billions of dollars. She says it’s time to get a comprehensive farm bill done to give farmers and ranchers the certainty they need to continue growing the economy.