Dems propose bill to avoid 'food stamp cliff'

Dozens of House Democrats have proposed legislation that would extend food stamp benefits for 47 million beneficiaries.

Food stamp benefits were enhanced by the 2009 stimulus bill, but that boost will expire at the end of October. As a result, a family of four faces a $36 per month cut, and benefits for a single adult will be cut $11 a month to $189.

The Extend Not Cut SNAP Benefits Act, H.R. 3353, would extend those benefits for another year. House Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.) said the bill is needed to avoid making worse the problem of hunger in America.

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"The Nov. 1 cut will aggravate the problem of hunger in our nation, and make it that much harder for millions of Americans—fathers and mothers, children, veterans and active duty military to provide for their loved ones," he said earlier this month.

"These cuts will come at a moment when Americans are ill-prepared to afford them," he said. "The loss of SNAP will not just mean empty tables for Thanksgiving for millions; it will mean a weaker economy, even as the effects of our prolonged shutdown and debt ceiling brinksmanship continues to erode economic progress."

The bill is sponsored by nearly 40 House Democrats, and was introduced just a two days before House and Senate conferees are set to meet on the farm bill. The House version of the farm bill would cut the food stamp program — formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — by $39 billion over 10 years.

The Senate bill cuts just $4 billion over 10 years. That big difference is expected to be the major hurdle in House-Senate talks over the coming days and weeks.