In a tight 217-210 vote, The House voted this evening to 'taper' food stamps by $39 billion over the next decade. This bill - setting up a showdown with Senate Democrats - cuts nearly twice as much as a bill that was rejected in June, and, as USA Today reports, dramatically larger than the $4.5 billion 'trim' that was passed by the Senate earlier in the year. The bill would cause 3 million people to lose benefits while another 850,000 would see their benefits cut, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
Republicans argued that the bill would restore the program's original eligibility limits and preserve the safety net for the truly needy. The White House threatened Wednesday to veto the bill, calling food stamps one of the "nation's strongest defenses against hunger and poverty."
Of course, as long as the Dow is trading at all-time highs, it doesn't really matter... since the number of people on Food stamps in the US is already greater than the population of Spain!
As we noted before, in June, the number of households receiving foodstamps rose to 23.117 million, an increase of 45.9k in one month, and also a new record high. As for the average monthly benefit per household: $274.55, just off record lows.
Via USA Today,
The House voted 217-210 for the bill that cuts nearly twice as much from food stamps as a bill the House rejected in June. It is also far more than a Senate measure passed earlier this year that would trim about $4.5 billion in spending. The bill failed to draw the support of a single Democrat, many of whom have said the steep cuts would erode a key safety net depended upon by families with children, seniors, veterans and people looking for work.
Fifteen Republicans also voted against the bill.
Republicans argued that the bill would restore the program's original eligibility limits and preserve the safety net for the truly needy.
In June, the House rejected the farm bill in a floor vote that was seen as a major setback to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Democrats argued that the cuts in the bill were too severe, and Republicans opposed the bill because of costs they said were still too high.
A few weeks later, the House broke the farm bill into two separate chunks, narrowly approving the subsidy and conservation section but reserving the food stamp portion for later.
The cost of food stamps — officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — has exploded over the past decade, according to the Department of Agriculture. In 2001, the program served 17 million people at a cost of just over $15 billion. By June of this year, there were 47.8 million people enrolled in the program, and annual costs were about $75 billion.
Republicans argue that the growth has been fueled by allowing states to waive eligibility requirements, allowing more people to enroll in the program than the law originally intended.
But Agriculture Committee member Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said Thursday "we are not talking about eliminating the SNAP program." The goal of the bill, he said, is to "limit the public assistance program to those who qualify and close loopholes that have allowed people to game the system." The changes will help "keep the safety net intact for qualified families," he said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, said Thursday, ""House Republicans' vote to deny nutrition assistance to hungry, low-income Americans is shameful. The Senate will never pass such hateful, punitive legislation."