WASHINGTON – The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday agreed to a measure proposed by Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., to end bonus pay for those enrolling new food stamp recipients.
The proposal was included in a massive farm bill that would set federal agriculture and nutrition policies for the next five years. The committee was expected to complete work on the 1,000-page bill late Wednesday evening.
Hudson’s proposal would also require applicants to be screened through existing electronic databases to determine if they are prohibited from receiving food stamp benefits.
“We must insure that every nutritional dollar is spent wisely,” Hudson said.
The electronic databases, he said, would ensure that those caught trying to “cheat the system and steal from taxpayers” are not able to get benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which was formerly known as food stamps.
The federal program, which on average provides less than $1.50 per meal in assistance to low-income families and individuals, has doubled since 2008. More than 47 million people received SNAP benefits last year at a cost of $80 billion.
The farm bill before the House would cut the program by about $2 billion a year largely by blocking states from automatically qualifying individuals for SNAP who receive other low-income assistance benefits such as LIHEAP.
Most Democrats on the committee opposed the cuts to food stamps, arguing that many working families in their districts are struggling to feed their children and are legitimately in need of the assistance.
The Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday approved its own version of the farm bill that would reduce the food stamp program by far less.