GOP proposes turning food aid programs into block grant

"This legislation also rolls back spending to pre-recession levels," they said in a joint statement. "If liberals are correct that the nation is better off now than four years ago, then returning to spending levels of four years ago should not be a problem."

ADVERTISEMENT
The change might also help Republicans find a path forward to passing a farm bill. House Republicans failed to move a bill in September, in part due to worries about how much it would cost. Without any cuts, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) alone is expected to cost about $70 billion, and made up the bulk of the farm bill that was under consideration this year.

Under the bill, SNAP and five other programs would be turned into a single block grant for states — The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), Community Food Projects, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

"Given the nation's $16 trillion of debt, four years of trillion-dollar-plus deficits, and a 297-percent explosion over the last decade in SNAP (food stamp) spending alone, Washington has to get serious about unchecked entitlement growth," the four Republicans said. "In block granting nutrition assistance, as this legislation does, states will not only be able to set the criteria as they see fit, but will be held accountable for the decisions they make.

"By putting control of the program in the hands of those closest to the taxpayers and the people utilizing the benefits, the American people will have greater opportunity to reward good leadership and punish bad decision-making."