Senate Dems vow to restore cuts to food assistance

Some Senate Democrats have renewed their calls for increases in food assistance, especially during the holiday season.

Sens. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said they would increase their efforts to restore cuts made to the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps.

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“Food assistance programs like TEFAP and SNAP play a critical role in the battle against hunger for children, seniors and families across Pennsylvania and throughout our nation,” Casey said. “Congress must work on a bipartisan basis to develop policies for ensuring that all Americans have access to safe, affordable and nutritious foods.”

Lawmakers are negotiating differences between the House and Senate farm bills, which include funding for food assistance programs. The House bill cut food stamps by nearly $40 billion, while the Senate bill made minor reforms to the program to eliminate fraud and abuse, saving $4 billion.

Democrats argued the House cuts were too drastic, especially since the economy is still recovering and unemployment levels are near 7 percent.

“It is so important to remember our most vulnerable families — not just during the holidays but every day — and do all we can to support them, including making sure critical food assistance programs like SNAP and Emergency Food Assistance are fully funded,” Rockefeller said. “SNAP is essential to easing the stress of food insecurity, but currently families are struggling to do more with less SNAP assistance — which is why I’m working to see SNAP funding restored.”

Rockefeller said SNAP benefits also help stimulate the economy; saying every dollar in SNAP benefits generates $1.79 in economic activity. 

Republicans point to the nearly $17 trillion federal debt as a reason why the government can no longer spend so much on food assistance programs.