Nevada Representative Steven Horsford voted against cutting nearly $4 billion a year from food stamps. The measure, which passed the House last week by a 217-210 vote, represents a five percent reduction to the program used by more than one in seven Americans.
The bill allows states to put new work requirements in place and for drug testing. The bill also ends government waivers that have allowed able-bodied adults without dependents to receive food stamps indefinitely.
“House Republicans support corporate welfare for big Ag and big business, but cut food assistance for the elderly, for the disabled and yes, even our vets,” Horsford said on the House floor. “The person who received $2.50 per meal in Nevada is not the problem with the budget. The problem is corporate welfare and the special-interest giveaways that litter our tax code.”
According to Horsford, almost 71 percent of SNAP participants in Nevada are families with children and criticized the bill saying it will affect families and veterans who depend on food stamps to help them through difficult financial times.
“We should not be cutting the safety net for our most vulnerable, while maintaining costly government subsidies for the well-off, junk food, oil and gas industries,” Horsford said.
Republicans who supported the bill said the bill will help target assistance to those individuals and families who really need it.
The new work requirements proposed in the bill allows states to require 20 hours of work activities per week from any able-bodied adult with a child over age one if that person has childcare available. The requirements would be applicable to all parents whose children are over age six and attending school.
According to the Congressional Budget Office said that if the bill is enacted, as many as 3.8 million people could lose their benefits in 2014. The bill still has to go through a procedural vote to allow the food stamp and farm bill to go to a House/Senate conference together.
But earlier this year, a Senate farm bill passed would cut food stamps by $400 million, or one tenth of the cuts passed by the House.
Nevada Representative Dina Titus also voted against the bill.
“It is not only irresponsible, it is morally unacceptable to cut nearly $40 billion in food aid,” Titus said in a statement. “Instead of denying basic food aid to millions of Americans, including children, seniors and veterans, we should be working to root out the causes of hunger and build strategies to eliminate food insecurity.”
Since 2008, the cost to taxpayers has more than doubled, rising from $38 billion a year in 2008 to $78 billion a year in 2012. While every house Democrat voted against the bill, Nevada Republican Congressman Joe Heck said the best way to help people is to improve the economy.
“Every able-bodied American that does not have dependents should be required to meet the work requirements,” Heck said in a statement. “…The reforms put in place by this bill ensure that only those that meet the income guidelines receive the assistance they need. The best thing we can do to help those on SNAP and other forms of federal assistance is to create an economic environment where the private sector can grow and create more good-paying jobs.”
Earlier this year, a combined farm program and food stamps bill from the House Agriculture Committee was defeated on the floor in June. That bill included about $2 billion in cuts annually to the food stamps program.
This new House bill is one that Nevada Democrats said is a misstep.
“This isn’t a waste,” Horsford said. “This is a critical social safety net program that families and children and veterans rely on.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.