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Steve Southerland's SNAP-Cut Amendment Blamed in House Defeat of Farm Bill

Some disappointed House Republicans are blaming Florida colleague Steve Southerland for losing, 195-234, a five-year farm bill leadership badly wanted. They say Southerland's amendment, which allowed states to require food stamp beneficiaries to either work or look for work, scared off Democrats who were previously on board with the $940 billion bill.

"... Southerland cost us 15 votes," said Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn. "A lot of people came up to me and said, I'm with you, but I'm out now."

Characterizing the $20.5 billion in SNAP cuts as cruel, Democrats tried hard all week to defeat Southerland's amendment. Meanwhile, Republicans were warming to it, saying more cuts are needed to eliminate fraud and ensure people aren't becoming dependent on the program.

"[W]hen we see the expansion of the dependency class in America, and you add this to the 79 other means-tested welfare programs that we have in the United States each time you add another brick to that wall, it's a barrier to people that might go out and succeed," Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said during a Wednesday debate.

The amendment gave states a powerful financial incentive for states to require SNAP recipients to work. It allowed them to keep half of the savings from cutting recipients off and to use the money for whatever they want tax cuts, special-interest subsidies, or anything else.

Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., offered an amendment to restore the cuts, but it was rejected in a 188-234 vote.

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