Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says it’s hard to see how U.S. Senate and House negotiators are going to reach agreement on food stamps, an issue that has helped prevent passage of a new five-year Farm Bill. A conference committee is at work trying to reach a compromise on the bill. But, Grassley, a Republican, says the two parties are too far apart on food assistance.
“There are 38 senators that sent a letter, all Democrats, taking a view that not one penny should be cut from food stamps. That’s kind of an extreme position,” Grassley says. “But, they look at the 40 billion dollars the House wants to cut as an extreme position.” While House Republicans are pushing for $40 billion in cuts to Food Stamps, the Senate – led by Democrats – is proposals cuts of about $4 billion.
Grassley says normally negotiators would find a middle ground, like $20 billion. “But here’s the problem with that…you’ve got those senators who say you can’t cut one penny, and you got the House, that defeated a bill a few months ago with a 20 billion dollar cut. So, I don’t know where you find it (a compromise),” Grassley says.
The two sides may have to compromise on policy, instead of money, according to Grassley. For example, some Republicans favor cutting off benefits to able-bodied adults after three months on the program because of high unemployment. Grassley also suggests not automatically enrolling families in the food stamp program just because they are getting some other form of assistance.