Tighten your belt, cuts coming to food stamps
Both the house and senate agree they want to cut food aid to poor.
The Senate has rejected $4.5 billion in spending on food stamps as part of a larger farm aid bill on Tuesday. The food stamp funding was part of an amendment that would keep the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from being cut.
Gillibrand made a plea before the vote saying "We all here in this chamber take the ability to feed our children for granted. That is not the case for too many families in America. Put yourselves for just a moment in their shoes. Imagine being a parent who cannot feed your children the food they need to grow. It's beneath this body to cut food assistance for those who are struggling the most among us."
"Half of the food stamp beneficiaries are children, 17 percent are seniors, and unfortunately now 1.5 million households are veteran households that are receiving food stamps," Gillibrand added.
However, other members of the Senate questioned the integrity of the program which in 14 states makes users eligible for additional aid if they also get aid for paying their utility bills. By cutting the program, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that food aid would be reduced by about $90 per family. For some families, that could be as much as one quarter of their total food budget for a month.
Some states may be gaming the system by sending checks for $1 to families who need assistance. One dollar is the threshold of assistance, which makes a family eligible for additional aid. Critical senators are concerned that states are sending out the checks to get more money from the federal government.
The number of Americans receiving food aid benefits has increased, creating alarm in Congress that not all people in the program really need the benefits. According to the CBO, 26 million Americans received aid in 2007 and 44 million received aid in 2011. Much of this increase is due to the recession.
While the Senate debates what cuts to make, the House is considering even deeper cuts. In any case, whatever version of the bill finally passes, food aid recipients can expect cuts in the year to come.
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