Tighten Your Belt, Cuts Coming to
Both the house
and senate agree they want to cut food aid to poor.
The Senate has rejected $4.5 billion in spending on food stamps
as part of a larger farm aid bill on Tuesday. The food stamp funding
was part of an amendment that would keep the Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program (SNAP) from being cut.
The cupboard will be a little more bare when
Washington finishes housekeeping.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online):
The amendment was proposed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D - NY)
and it failed 33 to 66. The amendment was part of a massive $969
billion bill and would be paid for by reducing guaranteed farm
profits from 14 to 12 percent. Additional cuts to reduce
payments for crop insurers would have also funded the food aid.
Gillibrand made a plea before the vote saying "We all here in
this chamber take the ability to feed our children for granted.
That is not the case for too many families in America. Put
yourselves for just a moment in their shoes. Imagine being a
parent who cannot feed your children the food they need to grow.
It's beneath this body to cut food assistance for those who are
struggling the most among us."
"Half of the food stamp beneficiaries are children, 17 percent
are seniors, and unfortunately now 1.5 million households are
veteran households that are receiving food stamps," Gillibrand
However, other members of the Senate questioned the integrity of
the program which in 14 states makes users eligible for
additional aid if they also get aid for paying their utility
bills. By cutting the program, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
estimates that food aid would be reduced by about $90 per
family. For some families, that could be as much as one quarter
of their total food budget for a month.
Some states may be gaming the system by sending checks for $1 to
families who need assistance. One dollar is the threshold of
assistance, which makes a family eligible for additional aid.
Critical senators are concerned that states are sending out the
checks to get more money from the federal government.
The number of Americans receiving food aid benefits has
increased, creating alarm in Congress that not all people in the
program really need the benefits. According to the CBO, 26
million Americans received aid in 2007 and 44 million received
aid in 2011. Much of this increase is due to the recession.
While the Senate debates what cuts to make, the House is
considering even deeper cuts. In any case, whatever version of
the bill finally passes, food aid recipients can expect cuts in
the year to come.