Millions of people could see their food stamps benefits decrease or go away after the House voted for $4 billion per year for the next 10 years in food stamp cuts. House Republicans introduced the new legislation earlier this week, and passed H.R. 3102, the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act, on Thursday with a 217-210 vote.
The bill still has to pass the Senate, which is unexpected, and the Obama administration said that food stamp cuts that exceed 5 percent wouldn't be signed. There are currently almost 50 million people on the program receiving about $57 billion per year, according to figures released by the USDA. This is an increase of approximately 10 million people from October 2009.
No House Democrats voted for the legislation, and all but 15 Republicans voted in favor of it. According to Republicans, the bill will eventually help increase employment rates. "This bill is designed to give people a hand when they need it most. Most people don't choose to be on food stamps. Most people want a job," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) "Most people want to go out and be productive so that they can earn a living, so that they can support a family, so that they can have hope for a more prosperous future. They want what we want."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn't see eye-to-eye with Cantor on the bill. "In the richest country in the world, 1 in 6 people are in danger of going to bed hungry tonight, and half of those people are children. But despite these sobering numbers--and despite the difficult economic times--House Republicans…are determined to gut the nutrition assistance program,” Reid said. About 3 million people will lose their benefits if the bill is signed into law.
While many are quick to wag their fingers at House Republicans for introducing the food stamps cuts, some are happy to hear that it would allow states to suspend food stamps if a recipient tested positive for drugs. The bill also prohibit lottery winners from receiving food stamps. "Able-bodied" adults without dependents won't be able to receive benefits indefinitely and must meet certain job requirements:
(1) register for work; (2) accept a suitable job if offered one; (3) fulfill any work, job search, or training requirements established by administering SNAP agencies; (4) provide the administering public assistance agency with sufficient information to allow a determination with respect to their job availability; and (5) not voluntarily quit a job without good cause or reduce work effort below 30 hours a week.
Many Twitter users are split on the bill just like our lawmakers. Some believe that we do need a certain amount of food stamp cuts, while others accuse Republicans of wanting to starve people.
Are the food stamp cuts needed? Add your opinion below.
“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food?" House cuts food stamps. Totally immoral http://t.co/QyVOXhBs8l
— Laura Everett (@RevEverett) September 20, 2013
Extremely proud of our House of Representatives and the GOP! Finally cutting food stamps.
— Matthew Swanger (@swangme) September 20, 2013