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House bill would take 3.8 million off food stamps

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWASHINGTON (CNN MONEY) — House Republicans on Thursday passed a controversial bill that would drop 3.8 million people from food stamp rolls next year by making it tougher for some families to qualify.

The bill would cut $40 billion from food stamps over the next decade, which would force about 14 million people from the program by 2023, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

It would tighten the rules for getting into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which has seen enrollment soar with the struggling economy.

Some 47.6 million people, or nearly 15% of the population, get food stamps, according to September federal data. In 2007, only 26.3 million, or 8.7% of the population, got food stamps.

The average benefit is $133.19 per person each month.

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The Obama administration said Wednesday it would veto the bill that trims 5% from the budget of food stamps budget. And Senate Democrats assure the bill won’t get far in their chamber.

“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,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday.

But House Republicans say their bill makes reforms that would eliminate those who shouldn’t be getting food stamps by closing “loopholes which have let people whose monetary resources are above eligibility standards into the program,” according to a a memo from the Office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Related: Poor hit hardest by Washington budget cuts

Basically, it would cut benefits for “able-bodied adults” who aren’t caring for children to only 3 months of food stamps during any 3-year period, unless they also work part-time or are in a job-training program.

The bill also scrubs a provision that gives states the option to allow some working families and seniors to get food stamps, even if they have a little more in total assets that allowed by the eligibility rules.

Early Thursday, it wasn’t clear that Republicans had enough votes to pass the bill, with House Democrats opposed and some Republicans, particularly from rural areas, quietly questioning the bill.

Even if no changes are made in current law, in November food stamp benefits will drop for all beneficiaries by about $11 per person a month, when a recession-related boost to food stamps — part of the 2009 stimulus package — runs out.

8 comments

  • adam

    Its ridiculous that more and more people are relying on food stamps. I could qualify for them with no issue, but instead I’ll buy top ramen or hot dogs. Time and time again I see people at the store buying choice cuts of meat or other expensive foods using stamps. If they really needed the help they’d be buying cheap items. I’m sick of this country turning into “the land of the I needs.” There are more then enough food banks to help out but they don’t have the good stuff as some stamp collectors say. Shame on all the ones that abuse it. Despite what is said in the chamber the GOP sponsored bill will cut the abusers out and supply the needy.

  • Xuven

    I have a relative getting food stamp bennies…. And he has more $$$$ than my wife and me …. And we both work….it is people like him that the bill would boot…. Another good way ( before you all start calling me a racist there are more white people in the US illegally than any other race) would be to make it illegal for those in the country illegally to receive any well fair benefits.

  • Anonymous

    I also have relatives who both work and still recieve food stamps. They get away with because they only claim what she makes, as they are not legally married. They also like buy large quantities of pot and alcohol….
    I think the takeaway here is the government sucks at properly vetting individuals before they are enrolled.

  • Me227

    ok,if we are gone to do this,and we are saying basically that to many are getting what they don't need,can someone make sure when these are taken away or cut that who do really need them don't go hungry. Also does this include all the illegal people here that are collecting benefits and yet they are working and living better than those that are Americans,for they choose to not to report thier income. And are we gone to stop feeding other countries, or is America that rich they can afford to do this,but then again if we were so rich and so able to cut these benefits,then we shouldn't have to have such programs to begin with. Yes there are many that maybe don't need them or abuse them,but there are so many who do need them and don't abuse them. I don't agree on cutting this program unless you start cutting with those who aren't here legally and stop feeding other countries until we prove we have no children elderly or disable or others going hungry here in America.

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