House Republicans have laid down their marker in the fight over the nation's food-stamp program: They passed a bill tonight that would slash nearly $40 billion over 10 years, arguing that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is bloated and too-easily abused, reports the Hill. The vote was close, 217-210, without a single Democrat voting in favor. The CBO estimates that about 4 million Americans would lose benefits under the House's tougher restrictions, but the rules are still a long way from being put into place. Now comes the wrangling with the Senate, and Democrats there say they won't agree to the big House cuts.
Some of the dueling quotes:
- Pro: Too many people "choose to abuse the system," says Eric Cantor, who has spearheaded the House plan, including the July split of the food-stamp program from the farm bill. “Frankly it’s wrong for hard-working middle-class Americans to pay for that." Adds Republican Tim Huelskamp of Kansas: The tougher rules mean “you can no longer sit on your couch … and expect the federal taxpayer to feed you.”
- Con: “It’s a sad day in the people’s House when the leadership brings to the floor one of the most heartless bills I have ever seen,” said Democrat James McGovern of Massachusetts. “It's terrible policy trapped in a terrible process.” Democrat Jackie Speier of California used props including a cooked steak and a can of caviar to argue that lawmakers should instead cut their own travel perks, reports the Washington Post.