Stabenow, too, is caught in the middle of getting a farm bill passed and appeasing her caucus. New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, a Democrat, has called both proposals, including Stabenow's, "callous" and bristled at her colleagues who call the heating assistance eligibility a "loophole." She says she will try to erase the cuts on the Senate floor, as she did unsuccessfully last year.
The debate over food stamps doesn't always fall along party lines — the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, has said he won't support major cuts to food stamps because it is a popular program in his state. Food companies and states, both of which benefit from the program, are also expected to fight changes.
On the House side, conservatives are expected to offer amendments to convert the program to block grants to the states, a move that could freeze spending and cut the benefit to many who now receive it.
"I expect it to be a very lively debate on the floor," Lucas said.
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