Amid Lopsided Recovery, Republicans Plan Cuts to Food Stamp Program

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Amid Lopsided Recovery, Republicans Plan Cuts to Food Stamp Program

'We cannot balance the budget on the backs of poor people,' said Rep. Jim McGovern

A woman pays for her groceries with a food stamp card. (Photo: Bread for the World/flickr/cc)

House Republicans are reportedly renewing efforts to cut the federal food stamp program, increasing restrictions on benefits and who may qualify for them.

House Agriculture Committee chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) will introduce the effort at the committee's February 25 meeting, the first of several hearings scheduled this year to debate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which administers food stamps. Conaway told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that implementing changes may take months, but reports suggest that Republicans will aim to slash funding for the program and tighten eligibility requirements.

Currently, a family of four making less than $2,584 a month may qualify for the SNAP program.

However, food stamp rules are already being tightened across the country.

Last February, Obama signed an $8.7 billion food stamp cut into law as part of an omnibus bill that included billions of dollars in agriculture subsidies and insurance. At the time, the president said the bill would expand opportunities for unemployed and low-income workers; however, numerous 2015 reports have shown that a majority of American families continue to face financial instabilities, and more children relied on food assistance in 2014 than before the recession.

A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released last month found that up to one million recipients are set to lose SNAP benefits and be forced into "serious hardship" as new regulations take effect.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts), who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, told WSJ that the Obama administration should push back against the effort. "We cannot balance the budget on the backs of poor people," he said.

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