News Wrap: House Passes Farm Bill Without Food Stamps Funding
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. House narrowly passed a scaled-down farm bill today after dropping food stamps from the measure. The vote was 216-208. An earlier version failed last month when more than 60 Republicans opposed it. They argued for deeper cuts in food stamps, which cost $80 billion a year out of total farm spending of $100 billion a year.
Texas Republican Pete Sessions and others said today food stamps can wait, but farm programs cannot.
REP. PETE SESSIONS, R-Texas: In no way is the Republican Party trying to do anything more in this bill that’s on here today other than to bifurcate and to pass pieces of legislation that then can go to conference, but we have to find a way to pass the bill. The Senate has done their work and finished their work. We are trying to do the same.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Democrats strongly opposed the stripped-down bill, as did farm groups and even some conservative groups. Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts condemned Republicans for putting off action on food stamps.
REP. JIM MCGOVERN, D-Mass.: It’s all about going after Americans who are struggling in poverty. It’s all about denying the working poor the right to food. So when we’re asked to trust Republican leaders, to give them the benefit of the doubt, I can’t. Trust is something that is earned, and the behavior of this Republican House towards programs that help the working poor, the needy, and the vulnerable has been appalling.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The House bill will now have to be reconciled with the Senate version, which does include food stamp funds.
In Iraq, bloodshed marked the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. At least 31 people were killed in a series of attacks. On Wednesday evening, gunmen stormed an army checkpoint and a police outpost in Anbar province, killing three soldiers and 11 policemen. Today, bombings and shootings hit several major cities, adding to the casualties.
A Moscow court has convicted Sergei Magnitsky of tax evasion, more than three years after the anti-corruption lawyer died in prison. A cage for defendants sat empty as the judge read the verdict. The case sparked U.S. sanctions against Russia, and, in turn, a Kremlin ban on adoptions of Russian children by Americans. Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 after he accused Russian officials of stealing state funds. His death prompted allegations that he was beaten and denied medical treatment in prison.
Wall Street surged today after remarks by the chairman of the Federal Reserve. In a speech last night, Ben Bernanke said the Central Bank will continue its stimulus efforts for the foreseeable future. The Dow Jones industrial average shot up 169 points to close near 15,461, a new all-time high. And the Nasdaq rose 57 points to close at 3,578.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.