Posted September 17, 2013
H.R. 3102, the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, September 16, by House Agricultural Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK). The text of the bill is available here. The Committee on Rules will meet on this bill on Wednesday, September 18 at 3:00 PM, according to the Rules Committee announcement, available here.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a nonpartisan agency that provides economic data to Congress, has released a cost estimate for the bill, available here. According to the CBO, H.R. 3102 would reduce direct spending by $39 billion over the 2014-2023 period. CBO also estimates that participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would be reduced from 48 million people “in an average month in fiscal year 2014 to 34 million in 2023.”
The two provisions with the largest budgetary impact would change SNAP benefit eligibility requirements are Section 109 and Section 105. Section 109 would “reduce the number of waivers available for certain childless adults who would otherwise be subject to work requirements or time limits.” CBO estimates that about 1 million people would lose eligibility for SNAP benefits under this provision. Section 105 “would restrict categorical eligibility, a current policy that allows states to determine eligibility for SNAP based on receipt of benefits in other low-income programs.” CBO estimates that 1.8 million people would lose eligibility for SNAP benefits under this provision. CBO also estimates that Section 107, which changes the treatment of payments for energy assistance, would reduce benefits by approximately $90 per household per month for 850,000 households.
The bill and the cuts to SNAP benefits have been a major effort of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), according to a Politico article available here. Whip counts “suggest it will be a closely-fought contest given the strength of the Democratic opposition.” In addition, the “severity of the cuts is also causing concern among rank-and-file Republicans with low-income rural communities in their districts.”
The “stated goal” of the bill “is to toughen existing work requirements for food stamps while also preserving the core program for the very poor.” Cantor consulted with conservatives and the Heritage Foundation, “with close ties to Cantor’s policy staff,” before crafting the bill.
States like Washington and New York “which are already using federal funds to teach job skills to food stamp recipients” could “lose millions in aid if they were to fail to comply with the new direction set by the bill.”
Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said, “Instead of appointing farm bill conferees, the Republican leadership has decided to move forward with an unnecessary and divisive nutrition bill…The majority is again catering to the extremes of their party, pushing messaging bills to nowhere. It’s time to get serious.”