The House approved a Republican plan on Thursday to cut food stamps by some $40 billion over the next ten years. The measure was approved 217 to 210, without the support of a single Democrat. 15 Republicans also voted against the bill.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that nearly four million people would be removed from the food stamp program under the House bill. A Census Bureau report released on Tuesday found that food stamp’s had kept about four million people above the poverty level while preventing millions more from sinking deeper into poverty, the New York Times reports.
The food stamp assistance program has ballooned in size over the last decade. According to USA Today, 17 million people relied on the program in 2001, costing the government around $15 billion. By June of this year, almost 49 million people were enrolled to receive food stamps at a cost of $75 billion. Republican leaders say that the “cuts” in the bill are actually the elimination of loopholes that allow people who are ineligible for the program to continue receiving benefits, NBC News reports.
Earlier this year, the House rejected a proposed farm bill that would have cut $20 billion from the food stamp program on the grounds that deeper cuts were needed. The food stamp provision is normally included in the farm bill, which is passed every five years and is set to expire on September 30th. House Republicans slipt the farm and food stamp portions of the bill in July. According to USA Today, “the battle over food stamps has left in limbo the future of farm policy, and slowed efforts to write a new five-year, $500 billion farm bill.”