The Senate bill, passed Tuesday, would cut $4.1 billion from SNAP over the course of ten years. The House version, passed Wednesday, cuts $20.5 billion. The full Senate is set to debate the legislation Monday; the House will debate their version in June.
The farm bill is overdue for reform, and efforts to pass it last year failed in the House. As of now, the farm bill in place is the version from 2008, extended until September 30. If the legislation ultimately makes it out of Congress, it will lay out a spending plan for farming subsidies and nutritional programs for the next five years. House Agricultural Committee Chairman Frank D. Lucas, a Republican from Oklahoma, praised the bill's initial passage as proof of "common ground," but the bill's bipartisan coalition of support stems in great part from Representatives Lucas and Colin C. Peterson's (MI-DFL) decision to increase the SNAP program budget cuts from an initial $16 billion in hopes of attracting more Republican support. Those who voted against the proposed bill were mostly Democrats.
Representative Jim Costa (D-CA), voted for the bill. "There is too much good in this bill to let it die," he said. He also warned, however, that "we still have more work to do to ensure the 2013 farm bill works for all Americans, including revisiting cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program."
SNAP has experienced growth over the last decade, due in great part to the economic recession. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that two million people could be eliminated if the program is cut at these rates, with most of the disadvantaged being seniors or children. Poor families, which are often headed by single mothers, would be hit the hardest. American women are more likely to live in poverty than men across the United States.
Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) and other Democrats on the House Committee offered an amendment to restore the proposed cuts to the program. It was defeated along party lines in a vote of 27 to 17 after heated debate about the food stamp program cuts, with multiple legislators using religious beliefs to sustain their respective political viewpoints.
"Christians, Muslims, Jews, whatever - we are failing our brothers and sisters," McGovern said.
Media Resources: Marketplace 5/17/13; The Bakersfield Californian 5/16/13; The New York Times 5/16/13; Roll Call 5/17/13; Ms. Magazine 8/5/10
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .