More cuts to food stamps may be coming, as the U.S. House voted Thursday to slash nearly $40 billion from SNAP over the next decade. The program currently provides an average of $133 in monthly benefits to more than 47 million people.
Rep. Tom Cole said Friday he voted in favor of the measure because curbs federal spending on SNAP, which currently costs about $80 billion a year. He added that another Oklahoma congressman, Rep. Frank Lucas, also supported the bill.
“He assures me that it can be done without hurting anybody who genuinely needs help,” Cole said.
Lucas said the bill includes common-sense reforms to the food stamp program that would close loopholes, eliminate waste and abuse and encourage recipients to find work.
“SNAP serves an important purpose to help Americans who are struggling, so it is equally important that we ensure the program is working in the most effective and efficient way,” Lucas said in a written statement.
The GOP-backed measure includes new work requirements, which would allow states to require 20 hours of work activities per week from able-bodied adults with young children if child care is available. Those requirements would apply to all parents with school-age children.
The bill would also end government waivers that allowed able-bodied adults without dependents to receive food stamps indefinitely.
The House voted 217-210 to approve the measure, which represented lawmakers’ efforts to finish work on a larger farm bill that traditionally included farm programs and food stamps, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The House Agriculture Committee approved a combined bill earlier this year, but it was defeated in June amid conservative objections that it didn’t go far enough in cutting food stamps.
House Republicans later split the legislation into two bills and approved a measure that included only farm bills in July. The House took up the food stamp bill, with its deeper cuts, last week.
Republicans have said the House will need to have a procedural vote on whether the two bills will go to a House-Senate negotiating committee together, according to the Associated Press. If the bills make it that far, negotiations could be difficult.
The Senate has already passed its own version of the farm bill, which would reduce SNAP funding by $400 million — one-tenth of the cuts proposed in the House bill. The White House has threatened to reject the House bill.
Cole said that the Senate bill indicates that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to overhaul the food stamp program.
“Both parties have come to the conclusion that cuts need to be made to the program,” he said. “It’s out of control.”