Yesterday, House Republicans
voted overwhelminglyfor a plan that cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by 5% over the next decade.
But 15 Republicans voted no, and some of them are explaining why.
It turns out, their rationale tends to be pretty similar to Democrats’: The cuts are too deep and hurt vulnerable people at a time when it is difficult to find jobs and feed families.
Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) released a representative statement:
I do not believe in making drastic changes to this program during a time of such great economic uncertainty without giving states flexibility enforcing proposed requirements. Portions of my district are suffering from more than 30% unemployment, making it nearly impossible for many to find work despite their best efforts. It is unfair to the American people for Congress to implement policies containing work requirements when our national economy is severely suffering.
Valadao represents a district in California’s Central Valley which, as he notes, has been one of the parts of the country hardest hit by unemployment.
Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.):
While I have voted in the past to give states more flexibility to require able bodied SNAP recipients to work, I believe $US40 billion in cuts goes too far. Millions of families struggle to make ends meet and over 11 million people in the United States remain unemployed. Cuts of this magnitude will only make it harder on families in West Virginia that are struggling to get by.
Capito is running for the Senate and has already drawn opposition from the Club for Growth and Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, which want a more right-wing candidate.
Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) expressed similar sentiments:
There is no doubt that reforms are necessary to ensure SNAP dollars are used wisely and appropriately, though I’m concerned that this legislation would have hurt the very people who need assistance the most.
While his colleagues spoke generally about wanting reforms but not the specific set of reforms in this bill, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) got specific. He likes many of the cuts in the food stamp bill, but there were some he couldn’t support:
H.R. 3102 contains several taxpayer-friendly reforms to the SNAP program which I have previously voted for and continue to support. For example, it cuts down on waste, fraud and abuse in the program by ending benefits for lottery winners and traditional college students — not the intended beneficiaries of food stamps. It would reinstate asset and income tests by limiting “categorical eligibility” and close loopholes that allow individuals to obtain SNAP benefits if they receive as little as one dollar in energy assistance from their state…
However… The bill would allow states to impose work requirements on adults with children, including mothers of young children in certain cases. While this would be a state option, the bill would strongly encourage states to place work requirements on adults with dependents by denying states which do not impose these requirements a 50 per cent federal match for dollars spent on employment and training activities…
I voted against this legislation due to the high probability that should it be enacted work requirements would be imposed on struggling parents from all walks of life — including mothers of young children who may need or want to be at home to care for them during the day.
And Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) had some state-specific reasons for voting no:
These proposed cuts would result in approximately 10,000 Alaskans losing SNAP support and harm food security for families throughout the state, particularly in rural areas. In fact, many Alaskans use SNAP to supplement their subsistence hunting and fishing. Isolated villages in Alaska face unique and burdensome economic barriers, and SNAP often provides a critical lifeline for residents. While I agree with many of my colleagues that we should continue to improve SNAP, making such drastic reductions in funding is not the best way forward.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) lamented that Congress is focused on cutting food stamps instead of overseas expenditures:
The sad fact is that instead of cutting off a lifeline for millions of Americans, we could save equally as much money by eliminating foreign aid for just one year. In my opinion, that is the approach we ought to be taking.
A representative for Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) declined to comment on the congressman’s vote. Offices for the other eight Republican members voting no did not respond to requests for comment: Michael Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Jeff Fortenberry (Neb.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Peter King (N.Y.), Gary Miller (Calif.), Chris Smith (N.J.), and Frank Wolf (Va.).
UPDATE: Rep. Fitzpatrick has emailed a statement:
89% of food stamps in the Bucks County portion of my district are used by seniors and children. Food assistance programs in my suburban district are about supporting seniors and children who may otherwise have nowhere else to turn.
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