House passes bill cutting $40 billion from food stamp program

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WASHINGTON — The House voted to cut nearly $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, over a period 10 years on Thursday.

House Republican’s Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013 passed largely along party lines on a vote of 217 to 210.

The billion dollar cuts to the program — which has ballooned in participation and doubled in cost since 2008 to nearly $80 billion annually — are achieved through reforms such as reducing waivers for work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents, tightening eligibility requirements like categorical eligibility (a policy allowing states to determine SNAP eligibility through participation in other welfare programs) and closing loopholes.

The nutrition title represents the second portion of the farm bill, which was split into two separate bills when a comprehensive farm bill failed to pass the House over the summer (in large part due to disputed over the cuts to the program). The cuts to SNAP this time, however, were twice as aggressive.

In July, the House passed the first portion of the traditional farm bill, a stripped down bill dealing just with farm programs.

“In the real world, we measure success by results,” Indiana Republican Rep. Marlin Stutzman said on the House floor arguing in favor of the bill. “It’s time for Washington to measure success by how many families are lifted out of poverty and helped back on their feet, not by how much Washington bureaucrats spend year after year.”

Democrats argued that House Republicans are trying to take food out of needy American’s mouth, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calling the bill “dangerous” and Maryland Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards calling it “mean” on the floor.

“This bill goes against decades of bipartisan support for fighting hunger and would be disastrous for millions of Americans,” Connecticut Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro said in a statement before the vote, calling the cuts “immoral.”

In June, the Senate passed a farm bill that cut $400 million annually from the program.

“[T]he good news for children, families, seniors, the disabled and veterans across America is that the House bill will never see the light of day in the United States Senate,” Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate agriculture committee, said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

President Barack Obama threatened Wednesday to veto the bill if it ever reaches his desk.

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