The U.S. House on Thursday narrowly passed a bill that would cut nearly $40-billion over a decade from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – otherwise known as food stamps. The House previously passed the farm program portion of the Farm Bill.
With the passage of the food stamp portion of the bill, the House and Senate can now begin reconciling differences between their respective bills in conference. Democrats, like Representative Grace Meng of New York, are accusing Republicans of going too far. “There’s only one word that comes to mind: cruel,” Meng said. “Cruel to seniors, cruel to children, cruel to veterans, cruel to people struggling to survive with a shred of dignity.”
The main author of the legislation, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, defended the proposal. He said opponents of the bill have spread a lot of misinformation. “The truth is anyone subjected to the work requirements under this bill who are able-bodied, under 50, will not be denied benefits if only they are willing to sign up for the opportunity to work,” Cantor said.
The House bill to cut spending on food stamps by nearly $40 billion over a decade passed on a vote of 217-210. Iowa’s votes were split along party lines, with Republicans Steve King and Tom Latham voting yes and Democrats Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voting no.
The Senate has called for a cut of about $4.5 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. About 48 million Americans received food-stamp benefits last year. The current Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of this month.