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House votes due on crop subsidies, food stamps

Published: Thursday, June 20, 2013 11:45 a.m. CST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is expected to vote Thursday on cuts to government farm subsidies and food stamps as lawmakers move toward passage of a five-year, half trillion-dollar farm bill.

Republican leaders have said they want to finish voting on the bill Thursday. Supporters have been working this week to shore up support for the measure as members of both parties have signaled opposition to the legislation’s $2 billion cut in food stamps.

Many Republicans say the cut is not enough; the food stamp program has doubled in cost over the last five years to almost $80 billion a year and now helps to feed 1 in 7 Americans. Liberals oppose any reductions in food stamps, contending that the House plan could remove as many as 2 million needy recipients from the rolls.

The chamber rejected an attempt by Democrats Wednesday to eliminate the $2 billion in cuts and instead slash subsidy payments to farmers. Republican attempts to impose new work requirements on the program and make the cuts even deeper are expected Thursday, along with other amendments that would overhaul sugar and dairy subsidies and cut federally-subsidized crop insurance.

The outcome of those votes could affect the vote on final passage of the bill, which is expected to come today.

Other amendments adopted by voice vote late Wednesday chipped away at food stamps. The House adopted an amendment to require drug tests for food stamp recipients, angering Democrats who said the tests would be demeaning to applicants. Lawmakers also adopted an amendment that would end a 2004 U.S.-Mexico agreement to educate Mexican-Americans about food stamps. More amendments to scale back the program are expected.