The U.S. House Agriculture Committee has passed its version of the Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024 (Farm Bill) – the massive legislation that governs, among other things, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The 2024 Farm Bill has been long awaited since the 2018 Farm Bill expired last year and Congress passed a one-year extension. Although the $1.5 trillion House proposal includes funding for SNAP, which is our nation’s largest anti-hunger program, and supports for farm commodities, some of its sections are drawing ire. One contentious component is the reallocation of billions of dollars intended for “climate-smart farm practices” granted by the Inflation Reduction Act. The Bill is causing quite a partisan dust-up on the Hill.

SNAP Might Feel the Squeeze

One provision drawing opposition from senior Democrats would limit future updates to the Thrifty Food Plan, which serves as the basis for calculating benefits for SNAP. This would prevent future administrations from increasing SNAP benefits to as little as 23 cents per day in 2027 and 2032. It also could stop a future president from dramatically rolling back President Biden’s 2021 major expansion of SNAP. Food benefits would still increase based on inflation, and nutrition programs would still make up more than 80 percent of the total farm bill spending under the policy.

The House Farm Bill would also expand immediate access to SNAP and other anti-hunger efforts like strained food banks and nutrition improvements for seniors. In a major move, the legislation gets rid of the current lifetime ban on low-income Americans with a previous felony drug conviction from receiving SNAP benefits.

A Climate-Friendly Claw Back

The House Bill would also rescind as much as $14.4 billion for climate-friendly farm practices provided by the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. That money would become available for all conservation practices: a move that Senate Democrats are calling a “non-starter.” The White House has pledged to protect the funds.

Partisan Politics are at Play

The House Agriculture Committee passed its version of the 2024 Farm Bill with a 33-21 vote where four Democrats sided with Republicans. However, Senate Democrats are beginning to dig in their oppositional trenches on policies they view as problematic. Getting a vote before September will be a steep task with another extension looking likely. In a best-case scenario, lawmakers could feasibly work out a deal in lame duck session, but the 117th Congress has not shown to be privy to bipartisan agreements – especially not during the election cycle. Depending on the outcome of the election, the bill could easily get punted to the next Congress.