WASHINGTON, D.C. (Erie News Now) -- Over 40 million Americans rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to provide food for their families. With the deadline for a new farm bill approaching, SNAP funding continues to be a major debate between both parties in Washington.

“SNAP helps all of us. Everybody you know benefits from SNAP because it jumpstarts the economy,” said Senator Bob Casey (D- PA) who views funding for SNAP as a critical investment for vulnerable families. 

“Most SNAP families have a child in the house, a senior in the house, or a person with a disability in the house and often a veteran in the house. Why you would not want to help those vulnerable families is beyond me,” said Casey. 

Casey said every five years, when a new farm bill is due, Republicans try to cut funding for SNAP. Doing so, Casey said, would not only hurt families, but the economy as well. 

“It has one of the best bangs for the buck of anything in government. You spend a buck on SNAP, we get a lot more economic activity than a buck,” said Casey. 

But House Republicans argue there are no cuts to SNAP in their version of the bill. However, their version does limit future increases to the Thrifty Food Plan, a plan that calculates how much money SNAP recipients receive. 

The plan is usually adjusted for inflation, but in 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allowed plan costs to increase beyond inflation for the first time—resulting in a 21% increase in SNAP benefits. House Republicans want to return the plan to be adjusted for inflation only. But doing so is expected to result in $30 billion less for SNAP over the next ten years. 

“I want them to have supplemental nutrition assistance,” said Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R- PA), the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. 

Thompson says his version of the farm bill is a win for agriculture and for families struggling with high costs. 

“I'm supportive of the nutrition title. The people that are eligible for that are the people that wake up in poverty and there's way too many families in poverty in this country given the inflation and the terrible energy policies of the Biden administration,” said Thompson. “We’re also trying to work on increasing the accountability, preventing fraud and abuse, holding states accountable in terms of how they administer these programs. And finally, I think a significant step in the right direction of encouraging healthy eating,” he added. 

SNAP makes up roughly 80% of total farm bill program spending. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects SNAP spending at about $1.15 trillion over the next ten years.