Why Congressman Conaway's Farm Bill Failed to Pass
WASHINGTON D.C. — Congressman Mike Conaway’s 2018 Farm Bill failed to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives Friday morning, May 18. The bill made modest adjustments to the food stamp program, or SNAP, to require able-bodied recipients to work 20 hours per week if they were aged 18-59. The existing law required 20 hours of work per week for ages 18-49.
There were other adjustments to SNAP that Conaway, the Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, said were for better governance. The work requirement increased to 25 hours per week in 10 years. The bill tightened rules to disallow fraud, and increased funding for states to create training programs for able-bodied citizens on SNAP but still unemployed. Conaway said that even with the reforms, about 60 percent of the recipients would remain classified as not able-bodied and would continue to receive food stamps without the work requirement.
The bill didn’t pass, 198-213, because the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative congressmen who vote in a block, wanted to attach immigration reforms and money for building the wall to the legislation as a condition for their support. On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats decided last month not to offer Conaway’s bill any support, so the bill received no Democrat votes. Conaway admitted that the 2018 Farm Bill markup completed in his committee was accomplished by just Republicans. But, he said, the Democrats were invited to participate. They chose not to, he said.
Conaway told us late Friday morning after the floor vote failed that he was down, but not out. “We experienced a setback today after a streak of victories all week. We may be down, but we are not out. We will deliver a strong, new farm bill on time as the President of the United States has called on us to do. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers and rural America deserve nothing less,” he said.