The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

September 19, 2013

House to vote on cutting back on food stamps

Plan would cut 5 percent from $80 billion program

(Continued)

Many Democrats took to the floor Thursday with emotional appeals. Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett called it the "let them starve" bill.

At his daily press briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney said House Republicans are attempting to "literally take food out of the mouths of hungry Americans in order to, again, achieve some ideological goal."

With some Republicans wavering, the vote could be close. The GOP leaders have been reaching out to moderates to ensure their support while anti-hunger groups have similarly worked to garner opposition to the cuts.

The food stamp legislation is the House's effort to finish work on a wide-ranging farm bill, which has historically included both farm programs and food stamps. The House Agriculture Committee approved a combined bill earlier this year, but it was defeated on the floor in June after conservatives revolted, saying the cuts to food stamps weren't high enough. That bill included around $2 billion in cuts annually.

After the farm bill defeat, Republican leaders split the legislation in two and passed a bill in July that included only farm programs. They promised the food stamp bill would come later, with deeper cuts.

Republicans have emphasized that the bill targets able-bodied adults who don't have dependents. And they say the broader work requirements in the bill are similar to the 1996 welfare law that led to a decline in people receiving that government assistance.

"Politically it's a great issue," says Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., one of the conservatives who has pushed for the larger cuts. "I think most Americans don't think you should be getting something for free, especially for the able-bodied adults."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said earlier this week that Democrats are united against the bill.

"Maybe I'm just hoping for divine intervention, but I really do believe that there are enough Republicans that will not identify themselves with such a brutal cut in feeding the American people," Pelosi said at a news conference.

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