Quantcast
  

Sunday, April 20, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 7 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

House votes to cut $4B a year from food stamps

By Mary Clare Jalonick

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:39 p.m. HST, Sep 19, 2013


WASHINGTON » The House has voted to cut nearly $4 billion a year from food stamps, a 5 percent reduction to the nation's main feeding program used by more than 1 in 7 Americans.

The 217-210 vote was a win for conservatives after Democrats united in opposition and some GOP moderates said the cut was too high. Fifteen Republicans voted against the measure.

The bill's savings would be achieved by allowing states to put broad new work requirements in place for many food stamp recipients and to test applicants for drugs. The bill also would end government waivers that have allowed able-bodied adults without dependents to receive food stamps indefinitely.

House conservatives, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., have said the almost $80 billion-a-year program has become bloated. More than 47 million Americans are now on food stamps, and the program's cost more than doubled in the last five years as the economy struggled through the Great Recession. Democrats said the rise in the rolls during tough economic times showed the program was doing its job.

Finding a compromise -- and the votes -- to scale back the feeding program has been difficult. The conservatives have insisted on larger cuts, Democrats opposed any cuts and some moderate Republicans from areas with high food stamp usage have been wary of efforts to slim the program. The White House has threatened to veto the bill.

House leaders were still shoring up votes on the bill just hours before the vote. To make their case, the Republican leaders emphasized that the bill targets able-bodied adults who don't have dependents. And they say the broader work requirements in the bill are similar to the 1996 welfare law that led to a decline in people receiving that government assistance.

"This bill is designed to give people a hand when they need it most," Cantor said on the floor just before the bill passed. "And most people don't choose to be on food stamps. Most people want a job ... They want what we want."

The new work requirements proposed in the bill would allow states to require 20 hours of work activities per week from any able-bodied adult with a child over age 1 if that person has child care available. The requirements would be applicable to all parents whose children are over age 6 and attending school.

The legislation is the House's effort to finish work on a wide-ranging farm bill, which has historically included both farm programs and food stamps. The House Agriculture Committee approved a combined bill earlier this year, but it was defeated on the floor in June after conservatives revolted, saying the cuts to food stamps weren't high enough. That bill included around $2 billion in cuts annually.

After the farm bill defeat, Republican leaders split the legislation in two and passed a bill in July that included only farm programs. They promised the food stamp bill would come later, with deeper cuts.

In order to negotiate the bill with the Senate, Republicans said today that one more step is needed -- the House will have to hold a procedural vote to allow both the farm and food stamp bills to go to a House-Senate conference together. It is unclear whether Republicans who pushed to split the two bills will oppose that effort.

Once the bills get to that conference, negotiations with the Senate will not be an easy task. A Senate farm bill passed in June would only make a tenth of the cuts to food stamps, or $400 million, and the White House has issued a veto threat against the House bill. The two chambers will also have to agree on policy for farm subsidies amid disputes between different crops.

Every Democrat voting on today opposed the bill. Many took to the floor with emotional appeals.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the bill is a "full assault on the health and economic security of millions of families." Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett called it the "let them starve" bill.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said today that House Republicans are attempting to "literally take food out of the mouths of hungry Americans in order to, again, achieve some ideological goal."

The Congressional Budget Office says that if the bill were enacted, as many as 3.8 million people could lose their benefits in 2014.

Around 1.7 million of those would be the able-bodied adults who would be subject to work requirements after three months of receiving food stamps. The 1996 welfare law put that limit into law, but most every state has been allowed to waive that requirement since the Great Recession began in 2008.

The other 2.1 million would lose benefits because the bill would largely eliminate so-called categorical eligibility, a method used by many states that allows people to automatically qualify for food stamps if they already receive other benefits. Some of those people who qualify that way do not meet current SNAP income and asset tests.

The Census Bureau reported this week that just over half of those who received food stamps were below poverty and 44 percent had one or more people with a disability.

By state, Oregon led the nation in food stamp use at 20.1 percent, or 1 in 5, due in part to generous state provisions that expand food stamp eligibility to families. Oregon was followed by more rural or more economically hard-hit states, including Mississippi, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan and Tennessee. Wyoming had the fewest households on food stamps, at 7 percent.

Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Hope Yen contributed to this report.







 Print   Email   Comment | View 7 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

COMMENTS
(7)
You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
droid wrote:
It’s time for conservatives to take a stand on waste. Too many lazy Americans take advantage of programs like food stamps which are doled out like free samples at Costco. Working Americans are too busy to pay attention to the fact that their tax dollars are being wasted on people who are able to work but choose not to because they know the U.S. government fails to count them as “unemployed” if they don’t receive unemployment insurance.

These are the invisible bums with their hand out to anyone foolish enough to fund their unearned lifestyle. By placating these people with free food, you make them apathetic and content. Instead, we should be making them uncomfortable enough to change their ways and take responsibility for their own survival. This is the nature of a capitalist society. Love it or leave it. Or dedicate your life to changing it. But for Pete’s sake get off your @ss.
on September 20,2013 | 01:16AM
Anonymous wrote:
Oh so we can assume your gonna get off your butt and find work now? Stop taking what you have no right to in the first place? There is no such thing as a 'free ride' foolish droid! Working Americans know about and pay attention to the fact that their tax dollars are being misappropriated by members of Congress, being wasted on foolish legislation that does nothing to help this country get back on its feet! There are literally millions of Americans waiting to get to work, but Congress continues to drag it's feet, doing nothing to ensure that jobs are being created; where is the legislation that is supposed to open the flood gates for employers, so that they can in turn hire more employee's? Change starts with you, and so far, you have proven yourself to be just like the GoP, always talking a good game but lousy when it comes to implementation!!
on September 20,2013 | 01:37AM
Anonymous wrote:
If Congress and the GoP were actually doing their jobs and creating legislation to further strengthen the economy, there would be less need for down and out American citizens to apply for welfare benefits; but because Congress has failed to do it's job and the GoP continue to push for deficit spending at a time when the country actually needs it's politicians to buckle down and get er done, create jobs for the millions of citizens, who are unemployed and being shafted by the GoP! Create legislation that helps to ensure the economy will strengthen over time, instead of fluctuate like a blood pressure monitor on the fritz; Have Congress actually do some work to earn their wages and benefits instead of working against each other to the detriment of the country as a whole!
on September 20,2013 | 01:28AM
peanutgallery wrote:
You've bumped your head.
on September 20,2013 | 04:02AM
Anonymous wrote:
There is no such thing as a 'free ride' foolish droid! Working Americans know about and pay attention to the fact that their tax dollars are being misappropriated by members of Congress, being wasted on foolish legislation that does nothing to help this country get back on its feet! There are literally millions of Americans waiting to get to work, but Congress continues to drag it's feet, doing nothing to ensure that jobs are being created; but where is the legislation that is supposed to open the flood gates for employers, so that they can in turn hire more employee's? Change starts with you, and so far, you have proven yourself to be just like the GoP, always talking a good game but lousy when it comes to implementation!!
on September 20,2013 | 01:38AM
Nevadan wrote:
Food stamps recipients increased from 30 millions to 47 millions before the 2012 election. It worked. He got reelected.
on September 20,2013 | 05:37AM
Anonymous wrote:
So, according to your way of thinking, you would have allowed those 47 million people who lost their jobs starve and go without? Congress has never bothered to tighten up the rules and regulations regarding the application and use of 'Food stamps' and we see fools like you, who blame the President for the problems created by our dysfunctional Congress! Stupidity can be cured with a little education, but it seems willful ignorance is a way of life with people like you!
on September 20,2013 | 10:58AM
IN OTHER NEWS
Breaking News