How Progressives Stopped the Farm Bill

SNAP-springfield-massby Pamela Powers Hannley

When Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) rallied its membership and asked them to take to the streets, their computers, and their telephones to oppose food stamp cuts in the farm bill, stopping the multi-year, behemoth looked bleak.

Both versions of the bill had cuts to food stamps and school lunches; the House of Representatives version, which was defeated on Thursday, had $20 billion in cuts to food stamps + increased subsidies to agribusiness, and the Senate version has $4 billion in cuts. This is immoral– feeding the military industrial complex but not the children.

PDA mobilized nationally to stop this– hundreds of letter drops at Congressional offices around the country and in Washington DC, thousands of phone calls and e-mails to Congressional representatives. And it worked– for now. Details of the mobilization after the jump.

From PDA…

PDA National Board Member Rep. Jim McGovern just called me to thank everyone in PDA for our help defeating the House Farm Bill by a 195 to 234 vote today. He shared with us that last week–even last night–this bill looked unstoppable. A few days ago, Democratic Leadership was silent. But we went from trying to make a statement of conscience to a clear victory on behalf of the millions of working people, retirees, veterans, and children who would have been devastated by $20.4 Billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps).

This result delighted us, even as it infuriated the right wing. As The Hill reported, “Immediately after the vote, Republicans were apoplectic at what they characterized as a betrayal by Democratic leaders, who did not deliver the votes they promised.”

Our pressure helped to turn the tide. We visited leaders including Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Richard Neal, and Henry Waxman in Emergency Actions at their offices on Monday. The PDA Phone Team generated hundreds of calls into key offices this week. PDA organized 225 letter drops at Congressional offices around the country, and 72 offices on Capitol Hill–more than 300 personal face-to-face contacts–yesterday.PDAers sent 22,054 email messages to 527 members of the House and Senate using our advocacy alert since this battle began. All of these efforts paid off…for now.

Sadly, the battle isn’t over. The other side is already planning another vote to slash Nutritional Programs. Soon, we’ll have to gear up again, but for now, let’s celebrate. We’ve never been more proud of PDA and what we do to stand up for our progressive values.

Thank you for everything you did–from all of us and from Congressman Jim McGovern!

Tim Carpenter on behalf of the PDA Team: Conor, Kim, Andrea, Judy, Mike H, Janis, Mike F, Kurt, Jeanne, and Deb

P.S. Please contribute whatever you can to keep PDA strong, standing up for peace, equality and essential help for people in need.

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