Cuts in Food Stamp Program to start November 1, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House voted to cut food stamps by $2 billion a year as part of a wide-ranging farm bill.
The chamber rejected 234-188 a Democratic amendment to the five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm legislation that would have maintained current spending on food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The overall bill cuts the $80 billion-a-year program by about 3 percent and makes it harder for some people to qualify.
The food stamp cuts have complicated passage of the bill and its farm-state supporters were working to secure votes Wednesday. Many conservatives have said the food stamp cuts do not go far enough since the program has doubled in cost in the last five years and now feeds 1 in 7 Americans. Liberals have argued against any reductions, contending the House plan could take as many as 2 million needy recipients off the rolls. The White House has threatened a veto over the food stamp cuts.
The amendment by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and other Democrats would have eliminated the SNAP cuts and taken the money from farm subsidies instead.
“It’s too big, it’s too harsh and it’s going to hurt so many people,” McGovern said of the food aid cuts.
Other amendments chipped away at the program. The House adopted by voice vote an amendment to require drug tests for SNAP recipients, angering Democrats who said the tests would be demeaning to people who apply for the food aid. Lawmakers also adopted by voice vote an amendment that would end a 2004 U.S.-Mexico agreement to educate Mexican-Americans about food stamps. More amendments are expected to try and scale back the program.