Posted September 20, 2013
The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved the nutrition bill that would cut about $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), by tightening eligibility rules and ending state waivers, according to a Politico article available here.
H.R. 3102, the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013, passed with a 217-210 vote. The text of the bill is available here. For information on the vote breakdown, the roll call vote is available here. The bill and the cuts to SNAP were a major effort of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Tactics to pass the bill were “extraordinary with no committee markup to review the 109-page package, nor amendments permitted on the floor.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) said that the bill would make “common-sense” reforms to SNAP “largely by encouraging work and fettering out fraud and abuse” according to an AgriPulse article available here.
House Democrats opposed the bill “saying it targets the nation’s most vulnerable population – the children and the elderly,” arguing that “nearly 4 million low-income people, including 170,000 veterans would lose their SNAP benefits.”
Collin Peterson (D-MN), House Agriculture Committee ranking member, said “All this bill will do is make our job harder, if not impossible to pass a five-year farm bill.”
In addition to tightening eligibility rules and ending state waivers, the bill plans to eliminate “categorical eligibility,” which “allows families to receive a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) brochure or a referral to an ‘800’ number to automatically be eligible for SNAP benefits.” The bill would also eliminate the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
The House will now add this three-year nutrition bill to its five year farm program bill and send it to conference with the Senate-passed comprehensive five-year farm bill, which includes $12 billion in SNAP cuts.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said, “Not only does this House bill represent a shameful attempt to kick millions of families in need off of food assistance, it’s also a monumental waste of time. The bill will never pass the Senate, and will never be signed by the president.”
The White House issued a veto threat of the bill on Wednesday.