Stabenow blasts House GOP for 'assault' on food assistance

Later this week, the House is expected to consider a bill that would cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in part by eliminating a waiver from current work requirements for states facing high unemployment or insufficient jobs. Republicans are trying to require able-bodied adults to work to receive food stamp benefits for longer than three months.

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Stabenow said the House plan was irresponsible since unemployment levels remain above 7 percent and underemployment is even higher.

“Millions of Americans are still out of work,” Stabenow said. “And the House is saying ‘get a good paying job or your family will just go hungry.’

“They are trying to take temporary food assistance from the children and families who are attempting to find full-time work.”

Stabenow, who serves as chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said SNAP, also known as food stamps, serves as a temporary “lifeline” for low-income individuals and families. She said most SNAP recipients utilize the program for 10 months or less because when they find work they leave the program.

“Eighty-five percent of the SNAP recipients are children and their parents and people with disabilities and veterans,” Stabenow said. “The House majority plan will kick those people off the program. … That’s how they cut $40 billion.”

The House passed half of its farm bill earlier this year, but removed food assistance from that legislation. They are now trying to move the second half forward.

The Senate passed its own bipartisan five-year farm bill, which reduced spending by $24 billion but only $4 billion of that was cuts to food stamps.

Stabenow said Democrats would not accept such a severe cut to food assistance if a conference committee on the farm bill is created.

"[The House bill] is going no where and it’s jeopardizing the passage of a five-year farm bill," Stabenow said. "And shame on the majority floor leader for doing it now."