In a tight vote yesterday (217-200) the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved deep cuts to the federal food stamps program. One in seven people currently use food stamps, about 85 percent of which are children and the vast majority of who are people of color. With the U.S. poverty rate holding steady at 15 percent, food stamps are seen as a critical safety net program for needy families.
The approved bill would cut $4 billion annually over the next decade and it includes strict new work regulations such as a three-month cap on food stamp benefits if recipients do not secure employment. GOP lawmakers claim the cuts are needed because the program is overfunded and has been abused by recipients.
While the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, and President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it does, the move signals a disconnect between many Republican lawmakers and the reality faced by the estimated four million people who rely on food stamps to make ends meet.