White House Threatens to Veto Extremist Legislation on Abortion and Food Stamp Cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is threatening to veto the House version of two incredibly controversial bills. First up is a massive, five-year farm bill, that the Obama administration says includes food stamp cuts that could leave some Americans hungry. The second measure now tagged with a veto-promise is one being considered by House Republicans that would ban almost all abortions after a fetus reaches the age of 20 weeks.

The House is preparing to consider the farm bill this week. The legislation would cut $2 billion annually, or around 3 percent, from food stamps and make it harder for some people to qualify for the program. Food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, cost almost $80 billion last year, twice the amount it cost five years ago.

The Senate passed its version of the farm bill last week with only a fifth of the amount of those cuts, or about $400 million a year, with the support of the administration.

The White House said in its statement Monday that food stamps are "a cornerstone of our nation's food assistance safety net." The administration argued that the House should make deeper cuts to farm subsidies like crop insurance instead.

The bill, which costs nearly $100 billion a year, would save a total of about $4 billion annually, including the food stamp cuts. It would eliminate some subsidies while creating others, raising subsidy levels for several crops. It would expand the current crop insurance program and also create a new type of crop insurance that would kick in sooner than the paid insurance farmers have now.

Farm-state lawmakers are aggressively lobbying their colleagues to gain enough support for the bill, which is expected to lose votes from liberal Democrats who think the food stamp cuts are too high and conservative Republicans who think they are too low.

Conservative groups have been pressuring Republicans to vote against the farm bill, saying it is too costly. One such group, Heritage Action, has paid for radio ads targeting specific lawmakers, including House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla.

The bill's supporters got a major boost last week when House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he would vote for the bill. Boehner has opposed previous farm bills and said he still has concerns, but said he wanted to move the bill to House-Senate conference.

House members have filed more than 200 amendments to the bill, which is expected to come to the floor later this week.

As for the abortion measure, the legislation is expected to pass the Republican-controlled House as early as today, but has no chance of becoming law in the near future since the Democratic-led Senate will ignore it. But the measure gives social conservatives a rare chance to promote their anti-abortion agenda and lays the groundwork for what could be a future challenge to the 1973 Supreme Court decision that confirmed a woman's right to late-term abortions.

In issuing the veto threat, the White House on Monday said the measure "would unacceptably restrict women's health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman's right to choose."


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