Tags: house | republicans | food | stamp | program | cuts

House Republicans Push Food-Stamp Program Cuts

By    |   Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015 09:32 PM

House Republicans are looking to make changes to the $74 billion food-stamps program – and indications are they'll try to scale it down and tighten eligibility, The Wall Street Journal reports.

On Feb. 25, the House Agriculture Committee, chaired by Texas Republican Rep. Mike Conaway, will hold the first of planned hearings on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the formal name for food stamps.

And with the program serving about 46.5 million people – double the number from a decade ago – and its cost skyrocketing from $27 billion in fiscal year 2004, Conaway's belief in a strong work ethic that "built America" suggests he'd favor a smaller program with fewer recipients, The Journal reports.

"A family that depends on their own work is more secure," he told The Journal. "There’s a dignity in taking care of yourself."

Conaway told The Journal it's said it is too early to discuss specifics, but some states are already pressing for tighter eligibility requirements; currently a family of four earning less than $2,584 in gross monthly income can qualify.

The Journal notes states manage the Agriculture Department program, and more than 20 are preparing to reinstate time limits waived during the recession.

The Journal reports 1 million food stamp recipients could be kicked off the rolls if limits are restored that restrict healthy adults without children to three months of benefits every three years unless they're working or in job training.

"The program was structured when malnutrition was a real problem," Douglas Besharov, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, told The Journal. "It has now become a form of income support."

Changes will likely trigger push back from Democrats, The Journal reports.

"We cannot balance the budget on the backs of poor people," Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, told The Journal.

Some Republicans are watching closely too.

"Finding out what’s broken is the first step, then we’ll get to work on improving the program," Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, told The Journal in a statement.

The current GOP push isn't a first; in 2013, Republicans tried to cut the program by $40 billion as part of the farm-bill reauthorization.

A compromise with Democrats yielded $8.6 billion in cuts over 10 years, The Journal notes.

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House Republicans are looking to make changes to the $74 billion food-stamps program – and indications are they'll try to scale it down and tighten eligibility, The Wall Street Journal reports.
house, republicans, food, stamp, program, cuts
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2015-32-11
Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015 09:32 PM
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