Republicans Push Food Stamp Changes Through House with Controversial Farm Bill
On Thursday, the House passed its GOP-backed version of the farm bill by a marginal two votes. With the current farm bill set to expire September 30, lawmakers have been scrambling to come to a consensus on the key piece of legislation traditionally responsible for re-authorizing programs related to food and agricultural policy.
The farm bill was finally pushed through by Republicans after a rocky start. Back in May, the bill failed in the House after a group of Republicans from the Freedom Caucus voted in opposition to secure their own vote for a conservative immigration plan.
The most polarizing aspect of the $867 billion package is the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Under the proposed legislation, able-bodied adults aged 18-59 will have to spend 20 hours per week either working or participating in a state-run training program to receive benefits.
According to Republicans, the job requirements will promote self-sufficiency and push more workers into the labor force.
“This bill includes critical reforms to nutrition benefits that close the skills gap, better equip our workforce, and encourage people to move from welfare to work, so more Americans have the opportunity to tap into the economic prosperity we’re seeing right now,” said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
The bill comes to the dismay of many Democrats and anti-hunger groups who claim it will only exacerbate the problem of food insecurity by cutting an estimated 400,000 households off the program as well as putting thousands of children at risk of losing their enrollment in free and reduced-price school meal programs. According to Rep. Collin Peterson, top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, the bill “worsens hunger and it fails rural communities.”
The passage of the bill means it will soon go to conference with the Senate’s bipartisan version of the bill, given it passes, before appearing on the president’s desk.