U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, said it’s likely that Congress will take up the farm bill after the election, and said he supported the sharp cuts proposed to the food stamp program in the Republican-led House of Representatives.
Pompeo spoke Friday to the Agri-Business Council of Wichita.
The House Agriculture Committee has approved a bill, but it hasn’t been voted on by the full House.
The U.S. Senate has passed a version of the farm bill, which includes not only programs for farmers but also such programs as those that fund food stamps and school lunches. The legislation approved by the Senate featured less severe cuts to those programs than have been proposed in the House.
Pompeo said he couldn’t make a call on how he would vote on the farm bill until he saw it, but he took a hard line on the money spent on food stamps, calling the current program “a wreck.”
The growth of the food stamp program in the past few years is symbolic of the inability of the federal government – and Congress – to control spending, he said.
“We cannot have the food stamp program grow 400 percent and sustain an economy,” he said.
The bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee in July would cut projected spending in farm and nutrition programs by $35 billion, including reducing spending on food stamps by $16.5 billion, over the next decade. The Senate version would cut spending by $23 billion.
Both bills would eliminate direct payments to farmers in the form of crop subsidies, but much of the money saved would go into crop insurance and other programs.
Pompeo attacked President Obama’s administration on several fronts:
• He said Obama has increased the cost of energy by hindering the development of coal and natural gas extraction and pushing alternative energies such as wind power. Pompeo described the layoff of nearly 150 workers at the Siemens wind turbine plant in Hutchinson as “sad,” but reiterated his opposition to tax credits for wind power that helped the industry expand. The anticipated end of those credits has brought the expansion to a halt.
• Obama, Pompeo said, has shown no leadership in trying to rein in federal spending. “He is deeply committed to increasing the scope of the federal government.”
• Members of Congress are going to have to get tough with constituents to begin to put a dent in the debt, he said. “You can’t talk about the need to cut Social Security in a meeting at the high school and the need to cut education cost at the senior center,” he said. “You’ve got to talk about Social Security at the senior center.”