First District Cong. Rick Crawford (R) thinks House Republicans may have overreached in efforts to reform nutrition programs tied to recent farm bill votes.
After a bill combining farming programs and nutrition funding failed with splintered Democratic and Republican support, House Republicans passed a second measure that decoupled the two issues. The second vote only dealt with agricultural program funding and leaves a separate measure to come on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) funding.
In the first failed vote, SNAP funding would have been reduced by $20 billion over a ten-year period and other aspects of the program’s eligibility qualifications would have been addressed.
Crawford, who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, said he’s unsure if SNAP funding and reforms can be dealt with this year.
“I honestly don’t think we can. I think we have to be careful that we don’t overreach. I think that’s what we did in that first round and we lost a lot of Democrats’ support,” Crawford said on this week’s edition of Capitol View.
“$20.5 billion in cuts – it’s not even the number I think we should focus on – it’s the reforms in the program that I think are the most relevant in the approach that the House Ag committee took. I would also say that the House Ag committee passed that bill on a 36-10 vote. That’s a very bipartisan demonstration on the part of the House Ag committee.”
To complicate the singling out of SNAP funding, Crawford noted that the nutrition bill is one of several entitlement programs that will have its funding preserved or possibly increased slightly if no Congressional action is taken. Only a vote of Congress to change the funding formula or alter program eligibility can drastically change SNAP.
“I don’t know if we can pass a nutrition title in the time that we have. If we don’t then we don’t get any of the reforms that we set out in the original House bill,” he said. “The reforms that we were looking at, we really may have lost those in kind of an overzealous overreach to do more.”
Crawford said he doesn’t blame those who voted to decouple the farm bill and SNAP, such as Fourth District Cong. Tom Cotton (R), the only Arkansas House member to vote that way.
“I’m not going to cast blame or question motives or cast aspersions on anybody,” Crawford said, noting that every Congressional member has to vote his own conscience.
Crawford says immigration reform won’t be dealt with by the House before the August Congressional recess. He supports the piecemeal approach to immigration reform that is underway.
A top priority for him is border security and he plans to take a trip being arranged by Homeland Security chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) in the next few weeks.
The group will make stops to visit with border patrol forces in San Diego, Tuscon and Harlington, Texas.
“I’d like to see for myself a first-hand assessment of what’s really taking place down there, what assets we have, what resources are available, and what we need to do different. That should help us make our argument for border security in a basis of fact,” he said.
Crawford also condemned controversial statements about illegal immigrants made by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) last week.
King said, “They aren’t all valedictorians, they weren’t all brought in by their parents. For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another hundred out there that they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.”
Crawford said those comments don’t help the discourse in the immigration debate.
“No, it doesn’t help at all. We want to avoid those kind of comments and I am certainly disappointed that Steve King would make a comment like that,” Crawford said. “It’s not helpful to the process.”
You can view more of Crawford’s comments and his full interview below.