House Passes Measure to Cut Costs of Food Stamp Program

By:  Raven Clabough
House Passes Measure to Cut Costs of Food Stamp Program

In a close vote Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved 217 -210 a measure that cuts food stamps by $39 billion over the next decade — a move that is expected to provoke a political showdown with Democrats. 

The bill failed to garner a single Democratic vote; 15 Republicans voted against the bill, as well.

The legislation cuts twice as much from food stamps as a bill that failed in the House in June, and cuts significantly more than the $4.5 billion cuts in a Senate measure that passed earlier this year.

USA Today reported, “The bill would cause 3 million people to lose benefits while another 850,000 would see their benefits cuts, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.”

Thursday's measure is a revised version of a bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee that would have cut $20 billion from the program by preventing states from automatically qualifying people for the program simply because they are enrolled in other anti-poverty programs. But earlier this week, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) introduced the revised version of the bill that cuts costs by $40 billion by adding even stricter requirements for able-bodied recipients to either be working or actively looking for work.

“This bill makes getting Americans back to work a priority again for our nation’s welfare programs,” House Speaker John Boehner said.

Republicans assert that the bill would meet the food stamp program’s original eligibility limits and preserve the program for families that truly need it.

“This bill eliminates loopholes, ensures work requirements, and puts us on a fiscally responsible path,” said Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), who led efforts to split the food stamps program from the overall farm bill. “In the real world, we measure success by results. It’s time for Washington to measure success by how many families are lifted out of poverty and helped back on their feet, not by how much Washington bureaucrats spend year after year.”

The White House has already threatened to veto the bill if it makes its way to President Obama’s desk. Likewise, the Senate has indicated that it does not intend to pass the House measure.

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