Friday, January 10, 2014

Congress could cut another $8.7 billion in food stamp benefits

Just two months after America’s 47 million food stamp recipients got hit with an automatic $5 billion benefits reduction, Congress is getting ready to cut even more out of the nutrition program. Lawmakers are currently hammering out the details on a finalized 2013 Farm Bill which is likely to reduce food stamp benefits by $8.7 billion over the next decade.

Unlike the $5 billion “hunger cliff,” the Farm Bill proposal would not cut benefits for all food stamp recipients across the board. Instead, it would affect approximately 850,000 households spread across 15 states. The affected households would lose an average $90 per month in benefits, according to a 2013 report from the Congressional Research Service.

“It does seem like that $8 billion number is the number that is being cemented into reality here,” said Massachusett’s Democrat Rep. Jim McGovern, a member of the Farm Bill conference committee. The language currently being finalized represents a compromise between House legislation that would have slashed food stamps by $39 billion and a Senate bill that proposed only $4 billion in benefit cuts.

The proposed compromise measure would save $8.7 billion by restricting so-called “Heat and Eat” policies on the state level. The District of Columbia, New York, California, and 13 other states currently use the policy as a way to reduce paperwork and claim additional food stamp benefits for low-income citizens. Read more >>

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