House Passed Shameful Cuts to Food Assistance

Last week, the House of Representatives passed legislation to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “food stamps”) by $40 billion. This decision came fast on the heels of news from the USDA that 1 in 6 Americans struggle to put food on their tables and that 1 in 4 children are hungry.

These cuts will hurt the most vulnerable among us. These cuts will eliminate all or significant portions of monthly SNAP benefits for hundreds of thousands of Washington households, most of whom are working poor families with children, seniors on fixed incomes, military veterans, and people with disabilities. It will eliminate all benefits for 124,000 of Washington’s single adults who aren’t raising children but who live in areas of high unemployment with complete disregard for their efforts to find work.

The loss of monthly benefits for those families and individuals will also mean the loss of millions of dollars in federal aid to Washington’s job training and education program for SNAP beneficiaries despite claims that this bill is meant to make sure that those who get SNAP benefits are indeed working. The loss of monthly benefits for those families will also mean that between 22,000-24,000 of Washington’s low-income children will lose their eligibility for free school meals.

In other words, a vote for this bill was in reality a vote to deepen hunger for vulnerable families.

Passage of this bill is not the end of the story. The bill will now be sent to the Senate for consideration, either as its own separate piece of legislation or it will be joined with the agriculture and other programs passed in the House Farm Bill in August so that the Senate and House can negotiate an agreement on a five-year Farm Bill. Even though the Senate is unlikely to agree to cut SNAP by $40 billion as proposed by the House, a compromise will likely mean harsh cuts to SNAP since the Senate version proposes a cut of $4 billion. That cut alone would mean 232,000 Washington households would lose $90 each month in food assistance.

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