Dem Claims 'Enough Damage Has Been Done' to Food Stamps by GOP
WASHINGTON – A leading Democrat on a House committee reviewing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program insisted that the system is “efficient and effective” and expressed concern that majority Republicans may soon seek to impose drastic changes.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), speaking at a House Agriculture Committee hearing looking into what formerly was identified as the food stamp program, said SNAP is “something that is working” and emphasized it “is a food program – it’s not a jobs program or a housing program.”
“And we’re told by charities and non-profits that they cannot feed the hungry on their own -- they need a strong federal partner,” McGovern said. “They urged us not to cut SNAP. And, in fact, they urged us to strengthen the program by making it easier for eligible people to enroll and re-enroll in the program.”
The committee this year has conducted five hearings regarding SNAP, McGovern said, and he is left with “a sinking feeling in my stomach that they’re not leading to a place that’s good for millions of struggling Americans.” Congress has cut SNAP over the past couple of years, he noted, and “demagogued poor people and increased hunger in America.”
“Two-thirds of SNAP recipients are kids, seniors or the disabled – most of whom are not expected to work – unless some here want to repeal child labor laws or force grandma back to work,” McGovern said. “Of those who can work – the majority do work. But here’s the thing that should really trouble all my colleagues – there are those who work full-time in this country and earn so little that they still qualify for SNAP.”
No matter how much lawmakers may want to “tweak, change or supposedly want to reform SNAP,” McGovern said, the only real way to solve the problem is by increasing wages and adequately funding job training programs “so there are enough slots for people who need them.”
“I think enough damage has been done,” he added.
SNAP currently provides food assistance to about 46 million people. Last year more than $78 billion was budgeted for the program – representing more than 60 percent of mandatory spending within the Department of Agriculture, but the system is in line for drastic cuts under the federal budget proposed by the Republican-controlled House for 2016 and beyond.
That spending package slashes the program by $125 billion over the next 10 years and converts it into a block grant program to the states beginning in 2021.