But another significant chunk of cuts come from reductions in food-stamp spending: $8.6 billion over 10 years. Most of those cuts come from closing what Republicans called a "loophole" that linked federal heat assistance to food stamp benefits. The bill also prohibits the U.S. Department of Agriculture from recruiting people into the program.
Anti-hunger advocates are unhappy with the cuts, and some Democratic senators, including Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), have pledged to vote against the bill because of the reductions. But the cuts passed Wednesday were far from what House Republicans had passed on their own last fall. The GOP had approved $40 billion in cuts in September, which some experts estimated would have kicked millions off food stamps.
But Senate Democrats went into the conference negotiations saying that such severe cuts were dead-on-arrival, and the final compromise tilted much closer to the $4 billion in cuts approved by the Senate.