House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called for congressional passage of a unified five-year farm bill covering Department of Agriculture programs for farmers and increased food stamp benefits.
Pelosi said that the current Republican bill was hurting everyone who needed food stamps.
"Five year farm bill, it shouldn't be this hard --- and then to have as a path to the conference, taking food out of the mouths of babies," Pelosi said Thursday. "It's remarkable."
Pelosi was referring to a decision earlier this year by House Republicans to split the farm bill into two separate measures, including a "farm only" bill that was approved by the full House and a second "food stamp only" measure that would reduce spending on the benefit program by $3.9 billion per year for a decade.
The government currently spends nearly $80 billion a year on the food stamp program.
Pelosi also criticized Republicans for trying to use the forthcoming debate on raising the national debt limit as leverage to achieve other policy goals, including maintaining the sequestration process that is intended to bring federal spending under control.
"This is playing with fire," she said. "Legislative arsonists are at work when they start using the debt limit for their own agenda."