GOP proposal for food stamps: Show some ID

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A dozen House Republicans say people who use federal food stamps should be required to show a photo ID when they use their electronic benefit cards (EBCs) to buy groceries.

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) introduced the SNAP Verify Act, which is aimed at reducing the amount of fraud that he said is leading to hundreds of millions of dollars in wasted food aid each year. Salmon said the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), informally called the food stamp program, is aimed at helping people in need, and that Congress must ensure those benefits are not being diverted.

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"It is the duty of our elected officials to protect the integrity of this program and discourage abuse from those who seek to game the system," he said. "My bill simply requires the photo identification of authorized users of SNAP electronic benefit cards at the point of transaction."

Salmon said a recent Government Accountability Office report found that $2.2 billion in food stamp benefits were improperly handed out in 2009. He said current law requires efforts to ensure food stamps are only given to eligible people, but said there is no requirement that recipients show their ID when buying food.

He said this loophole allows unauthorized people to use EBCs to buy food, and said the illegal selling of these cards contributes to $750 million in losses each year.

Salmon's bill was introduced just days after Congress approved a farm bill that authorizes about $80 billion in spending on SNAP each year, for the next five years. The final compromise between the House and Senate cut about $800 million from the program per year; House Republicans were looking for cuts five times higher.

Co-sponsors of Salmon's bill, H.R. 4006, are Reps. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), John Fleming (R-La.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and Jason Smith (R-Mo.). 

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