Ag Policy Blog

Reaction to the House Vote on SNAP Cuts

By Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor

Some statements following the House vote to cut $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program over 10 years.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack: “Today's vote was a highly partisan step that does nothing to promote a bipartisan, comprehensive Farm Bill and stands no chance of becoming law. The harmful plan championed today by House leadership would deny critical nutrition assistance for millions of Americans, including working families with children, senior citizens, veterans, and adults who are still looking for work. The Senate has passed a bipartisan Farm Bill two years running. Now it's time for House leadership to do their part by appointing conferees as soon as possible and completing the comprehensive bill that farmers, ranchers and rural Americans deserve."

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla: "I remain committed to getting a five-year farm bill on the books this year. Today's vote was another step toward that goal. The House passed a bill that makes common-sense reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that encourages and enables work participation, closes program loopholes, and eliminates waste, fraud and abuse while saving the American taxpayer nearly $40 billion. SNAP serves an important purpose to help Americans who are struggling, so it is equally important that we ensure the program is working in the most effective and efficient way. I look forward to continuing conversations with my House and Senate colleagues as we move toward a farm bill conference."

Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn, speaking on the floor before the vote: “I’ve been working on this farm bill for nearly four years and from the beginning I’ve said that I think it is possible to find some middle ground and make reasonable, responsible reforms to nutrition programs. Unfortunately, this bill is neither reasonable nor responsible," Peterson said. He added later in his statement, “All this bill is going to do is make it harder, if not impossible, to pass a new farm bill this Congress.

Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas: “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides critical assistance to families that have hit hard times. But it was never meant to support one in every seven Americans. These reforms won’t affect anyone who legitimately qualifies for assistance. They will simply allow us to better target our assistance to eligible families.”

Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn: “While I believe there is room to make reforms to the nutrition program, I also believe that no one should go hungry in America. This partisan, divisive bill unnecessarily punishes hardworking American families, their children, veterans, and senior citizens who are struggling to put food on the table, which is why I opposed it today," Walz said. He added, “It’s time for the Tea Party led House to stop the political games and start doing the work. America needs a Farm Bill that will give both producers and consumers certainty. The time is now to appoint a Farm Bill conference committee and pass a bipartisan, long-term Farm Bill into law.”

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa: “When we passed the agriculture-only Farm Bill in July, I was disappointed we were unable to include reforms to nutrition programs that would ensure stability for our economy,” said King. “As the Chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight and Nutrition, I understand the importance of SNAP benefits for those eligible for aid and the need for stability for hard working farmers. SNAP was originally designed to offer aid to those who truly needed assistance. Unfortunately, it has turned into a bloated program with far too few checks and balances monitoring to whom the assistance is going. Participation in SNAP rose 65% from 2008 to 2012. During that same time, the total cost of the program rose from $37.6 billion to $78.4 billion a year. It is critical we get the growth of this program under control by ensuring that benefits go to only those who are in need."

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Bonnie Dukowitz 9/25/2013 | 5:55 AM CDT
I also believe there is nothing wrong with helping those who need it. One needs to mention the fact that by relaxing the rules in 2009 has been one huge cause in the surge in SNAP expenses. Tightening up rules in order to keep a program successful, is not mean spirited goverance. I am thankfull the Congress has the insight to attempt keeping SNAP afloat, long term.
As long as people are totally commfy in slippers, there is not a need for boots.
chris jones 9/24/2013 | 8:43 AM CDT
Some facts: 1) Farm subsidy fraud far exceeds that in the SNAP program. 2) 94% of SNAP recipients work at some point while receiving SNAP assistance. 3) 50% of SNAP recipients are white.

These farm bill/SNAP votes have come to symbolize one thing for the GOP: who is my constituency. SNAP recipients by and large are not GOP voters. Thus, they can take a walk in the eyes of the US Congress.

There is merit in looking back to the "good old days" when people pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, planted gardens and made ends meet. But in many respects, the good old days weren't all that good. Most of us live in an urbanized world now where self sufficiency isn't that easy. We are correct to admire those who can pull it off. Are we right to hold those in contempt who can't?

I have no doubt that food stamps promote dependency for a small minority of recipients. But this is not a good rationale for the recent vote. Sure, no one is going to starve. But food security for all reaps benefits for all of society--less crime, lower health care costs, kids learn better, stronger families, etc. I have a hard time believing that the mean-spirited governance that we see everywhere these days (and these SNAP cuts are an example) is good for the country.
Bonnie Dukowitz 9/24/2013 | 7:00 AM CDT
We both grew up, dirt poor, by todays standard. Fortunatly our parents taught us to work, skimp, live with-in our means, without public assisstance. Between us, 17 siblings, now at or reaching retirement age, all still have jobs. Mostly lower, middle income(?) and none on assisstance, no millionaires. Most still have gardens. We did not know it, but many of our friends were dirt poor also. Even in town, people had large gardens. A decrease will not starve anyone, only reduce the abuse. Too many government levels abuse the system by encouraging and securing improper funding in order to generate revenue to support their own spending addiction. Proper nourishment should not mean a daily trip to get a Big Mac.
CRAIG MOORE 9/23/2013 | 8:23 AM CDT
As the SNAP program is automatically increased by 4.9% a year, it is not a cut as much as it is a reduction in increases. Never could figure how the government folk can figure a reduction in an increase that hasn't happened yet can be counted as a cut.
richard oswald 9/23/2013 | 8:02 AM CDT
Employment is up some as are numbers of working poor who must choose constantly where to spend limited income and how. I went through a poverty simulator a few years ago. Poverty simulations are a little like reverse monopoly. Participants are given play money equal to a months salary for say, a convenience store clerk. The simulator assigns family situations, transportation costs, rent, medical bills, food costs, etc. The car breaks down and work is twenty miles away. The water bill is due. One of the kids gets sick. You need a babysitter. And food. All has to be covered by $7, $8, $9 per hour.
Most who collect food aid are working poor, kids, elderly. We have quite a few retired people right in our own rural community who can barely live on Social Security combined with help from neighbors because all the jobs they held for a lifetime were low wage.
Curt Zingula 9/23/2013 | 7:18 AM CDT
If, as the Obama led Democrats declare, there is a recovery putting people back to work, then why do they need to maintain such a huge increase in SNAP?