House Votes To Cut $4B A Year From Food Stamps
By Sean Powers, with additional reporting from The Associated Press and NPR
The U.S. House voted on Thursday to cut nearly $40 billion over the next decade in food stamps (or $4 billion a year).
The vote in the Republican-controlled House came on a party line vote of 217-200.
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. Speaking on the House floor before the vote, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville), who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, voiced his support for the plan.
“Just as I believe we must take care of fellow Americans who truly need the help, I also believe that we must address fraud and abuse in the SNAP program and provide opportunities and encouragement to put people back to work,” Davis said. “When unemployment declines, the number of food stamp recipients still increases under our current system. This is simply unsustainable.”
Food stamps' cost has more than doubled in the last five years as the economy struggled through the Great Recession.
The bill also would end government waivers that have allowed able-bodied adults without dependents to receive food stamps indefinitely.
SNAP has traditionally been part of a larger, omnibus farm bill, but in July, House Republicans split food stamps from the rest of the agricultural measure.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that under the House plan, nearly four million people would lose food stamp benefits next year
The White House, in a statement, chided lawmakers for cutting "one of our nation's strongest defenses against hunger and poverty."
"These cuts would affect a broad array of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including working families with children, senior citizens, veterans, and adults who are still looking for work," the statement said.
Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan and the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said Wednesday that the House bill "will never see the light of day in the Senate."