House Republicans slash $39 billion from food stamps

IMAGE SOURCE: USDA via Flickr

House Republicans on Thursday voted to cut $39 billion from food assistance to the poor. 

H.R. 3102 passed the House with 217 Republican votes. The bill, if enacted, will reduce funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by 5% over the next decade.

Read more: List of 217 House Republicans who voted to cut food stamp funding by $39 billion

“This bill makes getting Americans back to work a priority again for our nation’s welfare programs. Majority Leader [Eric] Cantor and Chairman [Frank] Lucas put together a set of common-sense reforms that strengthen the safety net for our nation’s poor, root out waste and fraud in the food stamp program, and save struggling taxpayers billions of dollars,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “But while we work to keep these programs strong and sustainable, a growing economy is the best weapon we have against poverty and hunger – and we’re going to keep working on solutions that create new jobs and expand opportunity for all Americans.”

Under the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013,  the number of waivers of work requirement or time limits for childless low-income adults will be reduced, affecting about 1.4 million people in 2014 according to the Congressional Budget Office. To qualify to receive food stamps under H.R. 3102, these adults would have to work at least 20 hours a week.

The bill would also restrict food stamp eligibility for people who are receiving “benefits in other programs for low-income people”. The CBO estimated that 2.1 million people will lose food assistance as a result of this provision.

The bill was passed on the same day the Census Bureau released a survey indicating that the nationwide poverty rate increased from 12.2% to 15.9% between 2000 and 2012. As of last year, there were 48 million Americans living in poverty.

No Democrat voted for H.R. 3102 and 15 Republicans voted against it.

Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi said the Republican bill “slashes” on the legs many working poor Americans need to stand.

“It’s really important to note that because of the low minimum wage in our country, a family of four with both parents working full-time and earning below the minimum wage, are below the poverty line.  They don’t even come close.  One hundred and thirty percent of the poverty line.  They are below the poverty line.  So in some respect, the SNAP program is subsidizing a low minimum wage in our country, as other support does as well,” said Pelosi. “I wish that we could respect how hard it is for a family of four with two people working full-time not making enough money to put food on the table.  That we respect them for their struggle and for their concern for their family and not judge them that they shouldn’t have food on the table because our country has chosen to pay a sub-living wage to so many people in our country.”

Pelosi called the food assistance cuts “full assault on the health and economic security of millions of families” and will hurt children, seniors, veterans, and active-duty military families.

“One in five children struggle with hunger and nearly half of all SNAP recipients are children; nearly four million Americans over age 60 rely on nutrition assistance; five thousand active-duty military families, active-duty [military] families rely on SNAP, depend on SNAP; nearly three million veterans and their families don’t get enough to eat each month, and this bill will jeopardize food assistance for as many as 170,000 veterans,” said Pelosi.

 

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