GOP Prepares Food Stamp Legislation to Cut the Program
After an original Farm Bill containing food stamp program (SNAP) provisions failed on the House floor earlier this summer, House Republican leaders split the legislation and passed only the portion relating to farm programs.
Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Marlin Stultzman (R-IN) are among legislators who have helped design a food stamp bill that would cut food stamps by as much as $4 billion annually, reducing the nearly $80 billion-a-year program by as much as five percent. Fox News reports that House conservatives want to cut the program which they claim has doubled in cost since 2008.
Noem and Stultzman have said the legislation will find savings by tightening eligibility standards and imposing new work requirements. It would reduce the rolls by requiring drug testing and barring convicted murderers, rapists, and pedophiles from obtaining benefits. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who has agreed to try to advance the bill as early as next month, explains that the bill will include common-sense approaches such as work requirements and job training requirements for those receiving assistance who able-bodied adults without children.
Noem adds that talking about program policies and not just dollars, "shows that you really care about adding integrity into the program." According to Stultzman, "most people will agree that if you are an able bodied adult without kids you should find your way off food stamps."
While current federal law requires recipients to eventually work or receive work training, waivers issued by the federal Department of Agriculture have allowed States to set aside those work requirements.
The Senate has passed its own Farm Bill which keeps the SNAP and farm programs together and cuts SNAP by approximately $400 million a year, or about half a percent.
With no Farm Bill passed by both Houses of Congress, current farm law will expire at the end of September. Food stamp dollars will continue after that date but certain farm programs will be in danger. An extension of current farm programs was agreed upon earlier in the year to avert a dairy subsidy crisis but another extension will not be allowed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) says an extension would not pass anyway since many members do not want to continue certain subsidies that were eliminated in both the House and the Senate bills.