On Monday January 27th, House and Senate negotiators agreed to a new version of the Farm bill, capping two years of contentious debate over cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP or “food stamps.” The final agreement, which passed the House on Wednesday January 29th, includes $8 billion in cuts to the SNAP program but does not include the $40 billion in cuts that passed the House in September.
The cuts in the final agreement end the ability of states to increase SNAP benefits to households by providing them with a nominal heating or cooling assistance payment from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. About one third of states, not including Colorado, provide a small (i.e. $1) LIHEAP benefit to low-income households to simplify utility cost calculations and increase the SNAP benefits these households receive. Under the agreement, low-income households will now need to receive at least $20 in LIHEAP benefits to qualify for additional SNAP benefits.
The cuts are expected to affect 1.7 million people nationwide, reducing the average SNAP benefit in these households by $90 per month.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published a commentary on the final agreement earlier this week.