House Dems Revolt on SNAP Cuts
Senate Democrats may have leaned too heavily on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) when funding recent legislation. Initially, they made a $6.7 billion cut to an add-on to the program, a supplement created by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Then, when the state aid bill for which the SNAP cut acted as a pay-for proved more expensive than realized, Democrats increased the cut to about $12 billion. Then, when a sweeping child nutrition bill needed pay-fors, Democrats looked again to SNAP.
Senate staffers insisted that they left the SNAP benefits themselves intact, cutting only from the add-on. In reality, they created a situation where in 2014, a number of families receiving the benefits — and poorest-of-the-poor families, three quarters of them with children, are the recipients — will face a “cliff.” One month, they might get a few hundred dollars, enough for $4.50 per person per day. The next month, the extension will end early, and they will get less.
And now, the House wants the Senate to fix that problem. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has said she is looking for a way to ensure that there is no cliff in benefits before 2014. What’s more, 50 House liberals are urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) not to move on the Senate child-nutrition bill, and to have the House vote on its own version, without the SNAP cuts, instead. Here is the letter, via David Dayen:
We write to express our concerns with several bills that have been recently referred to the House by the Senate. H.R. 1586, funding for Medicaid and education jobs, as well as S. 3307, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, both use improvements made by the ARRA to the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) to pay for the programs included in each bill. While we are strong supporters of the programs funded in these bills, we are disappointed that the Senate used SNAP, a safety-net program that literally keeps families from going hungry, to pay for programs to help provide healthcare for low income individuals and to help teachers keep their jobs. As you know, prior to this vote on H.R. 1586, the Democratic majority has provided historic increases in the SNAP program; yet we are now forced to choose between jobs and healthcare or food for hungry people. This is one of the more egregious cases of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and is a vote we do not take lightly.