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House votes to cut $4B a year from food stamps

September 19, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The House has voted to cut nearly $4 billion a year from the food stamps program, a 5 percent reduction. But opponents did not go down without a fight.

Forty-seven million Americans currently live under the poverty line. One in seven Americans are currently using the food stamps program, which costs taxpayers nearly $80 billion a year. Republicans say that's way too high, while Democrats say there is a dire need.

"They somehow feel like crusaders, like heroes, when they vote to cut food stamps," said California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier, who called some of her Republican colleagues hypocrites.

House Republicans voted to cut $40 billion over 10 years from the program. Some of these same members take off for congressional trips and dine at taxpayer expense, according to Speier.

"They dine at lavish restaurants eating steak, vodka and even caviar," said Speier. "One of those people who is on food stamps could live a year on what this congressman spent on food and lodging for six days."

Most food stamp recipients get $1.50 per meal. Most recipients are children, the disabled and the elderly.

The Republican plan would require job or work training for some adults. It would limit the time some of those adults can receive benefits. And it allows states to require drug tests from beneficiaries.

"You ought to earn the benefits you receive. Look for work, start job training to improve your skills or do community service," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.).

The Congressional Budget Office says the Republican plan would deny benefits to about 4 million people currently receiving food stamps.

"Every person who votes for this Republican measure is voting to hurt his or her own constituents," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Even though the bill passed the House, Senate Democrats are vowing to stop it in the Senate and the president is threatening a veto.


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