House Republicans are planning to seek a $4 billion annual cut to the food stamp program according to news reports, reducing the $80 billion a year program by 5 percent.
A team of Republican lawmakers led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor will seek to move the legislation as early as September, following the August recess, the Associated Press reports.
The goal, to cut $4 billion annually from the program, is twice as ambitious as the $2 billion in annual cuts in the original farm bill that passed the House Agriculture Committee in May. That legislation ultimately failed in part due to conservatives who felt the cuts to the ballooning program were not enough.
The House eventually stripped food stamps from the farm bill, passing legislation that dealt solely with farm programs last month. The House has yet to pass the food stamps portion of the original bill. ‘
The AP reports that the cuts to the program will come by tightening eligibility standards, imposing new work requirements, and likely could include provisions to require drug testing and prohibitions to stop convicted murderers, rapists and pedophiles from receiving the benefits.
A Cantor spokesman said to The Hill that the bill would build on the legislation the House already considered.
“Majority Leader Cantor and [Agriculture Committee] Chairman [Frank] Lucas have worked with members to present a standalone nutrition bill building on those reforms already considered by the House,” Doug Heye said, according to The Hill. “That will include common-sense measures, such as work requirements and job training requirements for able-bodied adults without children receiving assistance, that enjoy a broad range of support.”
The plan was quickly panned by Democrats.
“You will have to ask them what the hell they think they are up to but this is not going to help,” Minnesota Democrat Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee said, according to Politico. “I don’t see how we get a farm bill at the end of the day.”
The Senate passed its farm bill in June, cutting the food stamp program by $400 million annually. According to the AP, Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow accused House leaders of attempting to block the farm bill by pushing a bill the Senate would never embrace.
“It’s wasted time and effort, it’s not going anywhere,” she said. “It’s not going to become law.”