Food Stamp Cuts Draw White House Veto Threat

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Monday threatened to veto farm legislation that would cut billions from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.

"The bill makes unacceptable deep cuts in SNAP, which could increase hunger among millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including families with children and senior citizens," the White House said in a statement, adding that the president's senior advisers would tell him to veto the legislation if it reached his desk.

The House Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill last month that would reform the safety net for farmers and trim food stamp spending by $20 billion over 10 years, denying benefits to nearly 2 million people, according to the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The bill's fate in the full House of Representatives is uncertain.

Food stamps currently support roughly 47 million Americans with $133 per month at an annual cost of $80 billion. The program's cost has grown dramatically in recent years as a result of the bad economy, making it a prime target for conservatives.

Several House Republicans have signaled the farm bill's food stamp cuts aren't deep enough. House Democrats, meanwhile, have been protesting the cuts by going on one-week food stamp diets.

For years farm bills have paired nutrition assistance with subsidies for farmers in a deal between urban and rural lawmakers. Republicans support shifting the agriculture safety net from a system of direct payments and subsidies that help farmers buy crop insurance to one mainly based on insurance subsidies. President Barack Obama's 2014 budget blueprint would cut the payments and insurance subsidies while leaving food stamps untouched.

"The Administration believes that Congress should achieve significant budgetary savings to help reduce the deficit without creating hardship for vulnerable families -– for example, by reducing crop insurance subsidies," the White House said.

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