With the end of emergency pandemic aid, monthly government spending on SNAP has fallen by more than 25 percent, to an average of $7.9 billion, said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on Thursday. SNAP households were receiving at least $95 less per month, the think tank said.
House Republicans wrote a one-sided, "slapdash and reckless" bill to keep the government running after Sept. 30, said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday. House passage of the GOP package, which called for an 8 percent cut in discretionary spending from current levels with an exemption for the military and veterans, was not certain since some Republican lawmakers spoke against it.
Lawmakers should refuse to make any cuts in SNAP, which is expected to be a major issue in drafting the new farm bill, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) said on Tuesday. Congress expanded the so-called work requirement for able-bodied adults enrolled in SNAP as part of debt limit legislation in June, and some House Republicans advocate using the farm bill as a way to place additional restrictions on food stamps.
A decade after the House briefly put the idea into play, a senior Republican on the House Agriculture Committee said the far-ranging farm bill should be divided into two separate pieces of legislation: SNAP and everything else. SNAP, which cost $119 billion last year, has become “an emotional, political issue” that taints consideration of farm supports, said Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia.
The 2023 farm bill is headed for defeat if Republican leaders meddle with SNAP, said Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee on Monday, pointing to floor votes that delayed enactment of the 2014 and 2018 bill. It was the second warning by the committee’s Democrats against additional cuts in food stamps following revisions in the debt limit deal in June.
The “very difficult” politics of SNAP are among the greatest obstacles to passing the new farm bill, said Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow on Wednesday. The Michigan Democrat is a stalwart defender of public nutrition programs in a year when House Republicans want to apply a 90-day limit on food stamps to a greater number of recipients.
An estimated 500,000 people, more than 1 percent of current food stamp recipients, will be cut off SNAP beginning in October with the return of the 90-day limit on benefits for some able-bodied adults, said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The figure may actually be closer to 1 million people, the group said.
The error rate of SNAP over- and underpayments — 11.54 percent — "is unacceptable and threatens the integrity of the program," said the leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees, who oversee food stamps. The error rate in fiscal 2022 was the highest in years and 4 points higher than before the pandemic.
In a marked contrast to the polarized House, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously on Thursday for larger spending on domestic and international food assistance. Also unlike the House, the bill did not propose new restrictions on SNAP eligibility, a key issue in the debt limit bill enacted early this month.
SNAP “is in dire need of reform,” and the solution is to turn the program into a block grant that requires states to share the cost of benefits, said a group speaking for conservative House Republicans. The Republican Study Committee budget package also said lawmakers should follow former President Donald Trump’s lead to slash farm supports.
Senate Republicans will do their part to smooth the way, but time is already running out for Congress to write the new farm bill, said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday. The 2018 farm law expires in four months, and leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees have yet to unveil a first-round text for the farm bill, an unusually late start for a time-consuming process.
House Democrats announced their opposition to further cuts in SNAP on Wednesday amid signs the farm bill will be the next battlefront over work requirements for safety net programs. “We stand united against efforts to take food away from children, families, or any vulnerable American — in the farm bill or any legislation,” said Rep. David Scott, the senior Democrat on the Agriculture Committee.
The Senate and House Agriculture committees are weeks or even months away from drafting the 2023 farm bill, a remarkably late start for what is always a detailed and time-consuming process.
An exultant House Speaker Kevin McCarthy twice suggested House Republicans would seek more stringent work requirements for the government’s safety net programs now that the House overwhelmingly approved a debt ceiling bill that also limits federal spending. “Think about how much further we can go,” McCarthy told reporters.
One in six of the older Americans targeted by an expansion of SNAP work requirements in the debt ceiling bill negotiated by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden lives in California, said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on Wednesday.
The debt limit deal between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy would expand rather than cut SNAP enrollment and spending — an unexpected result given Republican insistence on broader application of work requirements, said the Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday. The increases would be modest, amounting to an additional 78,000 people and from $200-$400 million a year in a program with 42.5 million participants at latest count.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed in debt limit negotiations with President Biden to exempt able-bodied veterans and homeless Americans from a 90-day limit on SNAP benefits, said two White House officials. But the agreement also applies the 90-day limit to so-called ABAWDS — able-bodied adults without dependents — up to age 55; the cutoff age is 50 now.
House Republicans returned to one of their original targets in the debt limit debate with President Biden — the authority of states to exempt able-bodied adults from the 90-day limit on food stamps unless they work at least 20 hours a week. Hundreds of thousands of SNAP recipients could be affected if Congress curtailed or eliminated state waivers.
About 1 million Americans would be affected by the House Republican plan to apply more broadly a 90-day limit on SNAP benefits to people who do not work at least 20 hours a week, said a think tank on Monday. “Not everyone newly subject to the requirement would lose benefits,” said the Center on …