House Passes Bill to Cut Food-Stamp Spending

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Measure Would Cut Nearly $40 Billion Over a Decade, Sets Up Battle With Senate.

The House on Thursday narrowly passed a bill curtailing spending on food stamps, setting up a battle with the Senate, which backs far smaller cuts. The vote was 217-210.

The bill would cut nearly $40 billion over a decade, or about 5% in expected spending, from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs.

The Senate has called for a cut of about $4 billion to the programs. About 48 million Americans received food-stamp benefits last year.

Passage of the bill paves the way for negotiators from the House and Senate to start hashing out a deal to extend nutrition programs and farm programs that expire at month’s end.

The bill’s passage marks a victory for House Republican leaders, who were forced to regroup after an attempt to cut funding more modestly for food-stamp programs failed earlier this summer when paired with the broader farm bill. The House later passed a stand-alone farm bill in July.

Senate Democrats have made clear they won’t agree to cuts of the magnitude passed by the House.

About half of the bill’s $39 billion in savings comes from a measure ending states’ ability to waive a federal requirement that “able-bodied” people without dependents work at least 20 hours a week or be in job training in order to receive food stamps. Currently, states with a jobless rate above 10% can exempt some people.

“This is not about taking food away from anyone who needs help,” said Rep. Marlin Stutzman, an Indiana Republican who was part of the House group that crafted the bill.

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