Millions Could Lose Their Food Stamps, Thanks to House Republicans

Written by Alan Pyke

House Republicans approved nearly $40 billion in cuts to the food stamps program Thursday evening in a tight 217-210 vote. Fifteen Republicans defected to vote “no” on the measure, which is projected to kick millions of people off of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates Thursday’s cuts will bump at least 4 million and up to 6 million people out of the program, and even the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates 3.8 million would lose benefits next year, with an additional 2.8 million losing them each year on average over the decade.

The bill passed Thursday seeks to pare back food stamp participation by changing eligibility requirements in a few different ways. In addition to adding work requirements modeled on the reforms that helped cripple the efficacy of welfare, the Republican bill ends something called “categorical eligibility” whereby people enrolled in other low-income safety net benefits can skip much of the bureaucracy and paperwork involved in applying for food stamps. While categorical eligibility reduces administrative costs in the program, Republicans argue that it makes federal anti-hunger spending too generous. The program provides $133 per month on average and is already scheduled for a significant cut in November as a stimulus provision expires. Furthermore, constraining eligibility for SNAP will mean some hungry people get hungrier: Nearly half of the country’s 50 million hungry people have pre-tax incomes high enough to make them ineligible for SNAP without categorical eligibility, according to Feeding America, and nearly a third earn more than 185 percent of the federal poverty level income.

The House cuts amount to about 5 percent of the projected ten-year cost of SNAP, which currently serves one in seven Americans as the jobs crisis brought on by the financial crisis continues. Enrollment in SNAP tracks with the health of the economy, as safety net programs are designed to do, but Republicans have repeatedly insisted that there is something untoward about the rapid expansion of the food stamp rolls in the worst economy the country has seen in about eight decades.

SNAP is one of the three most effective anti-poverty programs the government has, keeping 4 million people out of poverty last year alone. The cuts Republicans propose are likely to create greater costs down the road than what they save the government in the near term.

The House and Senate must now reconcile their positions on SNAP, which the top agricultural policymaker in the Senate has warned will be very difficult on the shortened timeline House leaders have created by waiting until mid-September to act on food assistance. The Senate’s farm bill included a $4 billion cut to SNAP, meaning that cuts in some amount are likely should the two chambers manage to strike a deal.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Angela l.
Angela L4 years ago

it's the game that all evil politicians have been playing; to jeapardize the nation's economy and outlook and to put the citizens in poverty. And they don't care. We don't make the law nor write the constitution, but we work hard and pay tax, yet the government has no protection for his people. Of course, a lot of loopholes as well where the fund goes to so many wrong places and wrong hands. The country is going to a hell and only the rich and powerful people can save the country. I hope they know that whatever they have can't take to their death bed other than their karma.

Nancy Elliott
Nancy Elliott4 years ago

Are they saying they cutting the food stamps program for working people only ? or does that mean for low income people too, such as social securities disability people and ssi

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

right wing religitards.. why are we surprised?


It is so sad that decisions like this are usually made by people who have secure jobs and have never known what it is like to be hungry and poor! They need to be confronted face -to face by people who can look them in the eye and can tell their stories and make themselves REAL instead of being, in the minds of the officials, some mythical quasi people that don't really exist and then they can confront the decision makers with their real problems and real issues and real pain and real hunger. It is much too easy for rich government officials to pretend things don't exist. It is almost like a game to them and it is something of which they have no experience, but if they are faced with real people, then sometimes, even they can have a tiny insight into the harm and distress they are causing and may even be able to show some compassion and not make such terribly cruel decisions based on absolutely no human understanding..

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

Typical heartless right wing response, screw hungry Americans (including children) but obsess about largely mythical 'abuse" and some imaginary concept of "dependency."

Paul B.
Paul B4 years ago


"... which has shot through the roof and unemployment benefits..."

Should read:
"...which has shot through the roof AS unemployment benefits..."

Paul B.
Paul B4 years ago

Terry... that SNAP requirement for work was all but eliminated by this administration making eligibility for receiving benefits easier to obtain. We have relaxed many rules for welfare benefits, like disability which has shot through the roof and unemployment benefits of a ridiculous 99 weeks run out.

This administration has done everything it could to secure as many people on the government dole as possible. They seel it as compassionate, but in reality it is a means to gain political power.

Ever read the signs, "don't feed the animals" in national parks posted everywhere. the reason is two-fold... one to keep the animals from actively approaching humans creating potential dangerous situations, and two.. so that the animals don't become dependent on humans as they will quit trying to feed themselves and lacking constant human feeding will die.

We must be very careful how we manage these programs for they have severe social consequences when misused and abused.

Paul B.
Paul B4 years ago

I would be willing to bet it is EASY to find 5% waste and fraud in the system. The ONLY way to clean up that fraud and abuse is by mandatory cutbacks, demanding that administers of the program make decisions on who should or shouldn't be receiving benefits, culling out the fraud and conserving valuable resources for those who actually "should" be receiving that benefit.

While the statement "some" hungry people will get hungrier is technically correct, through better management of the program, I would bet that there is STILL plenty of money available for those who are truly eligible and deserving of those benefits.

We HAVE TO begin to clean up these systems at some point by some means, but that will NEVER happen if we continue to simply "blindly" feed and expand the system. It takes cut-backs to enforce legitimate usage of those benefits.

David Menard
David Menard4 years ago

Millions could lose much much more than SNAP because of the repuglican tbagger fascists and many already have. I fear this a grave as it is its just the tip of the iceberg of their all for the 1% none for the rest of us agenda.