Today, Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3), Ranking Member on the Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee, held a press conference with Agriculture Committee Members Joe Baca (CA-43), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture, and Jim McGovern (MA-03), Co-Chair of the House Hunger Caucus. They discussed the severe impacts of the bill marked up earlier today on the millions of American children, families and seniors who rely on food stamps.
Earlier today, the House Agriculture Committee marked up a bill to meet the instructions in the House Majority's recently passed budget to cut $33.2 billion from programs in its jurisdiction over ten years. The Majority proposed and reported out a bill that would take all of the funding cuts from the food stamp program, ignoring all other programs within their jurisdiction. The food stamp program is designed to expand when Americans need it most -- in times of economic recession. It kept more than 5 million Americans out of poverty in 2010.
In December 2011, more than 46 million Americans relied on food stamps to put food on their tables. More than half of food stamp benefits go to households with an income less than half of the poverty line, or $9,265 for a family of three. Nearly 75% of food stamp participants are families with children and 25% are in households with seniors or individuals with disabilities.
"Our economy was driven into the ground by the choices made in the last Administration. Now, the Majority wants to add insult to injury by taking away a valuable program that helps millions of American families put food on their tables." said Congresswoman DeLauro "Incredibly these $33.2 billion in cuts would come on top of the cuts assumed in the Republican budget. Those cuts would slash food stamps by another $133.5 billion and fundamentally downgrade the program from one that is responsive to the needs of Americans to an inadequate block grant.
Leadership is about making choices," DeLauro said. "The Majority has made the choice to take more than $160 billion from food stamps -- from the mouths of millions of hungry Americans -- while preserving tax breaks for millionaires and subsidies for big agriculture companies. The bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee today is just the beginning."
"Today's sham vote taken by House Agriculture Republicans to cut $33 billion from the SNAP program is an assault on our values as a nation," said Rep. Baca. "SNAP has been a lifeline for millions of struggling families in the economic downturn. The attempts to balance the budget on the backs of the working poor and disadvantaged are wrong, and exemplify the misplaced priorities of House Republicans. It's time to stop the political games and get to work on a real Farm Bill that protects nutrition programs, and includes a strong safety net for American families." "Cutting an additional $33 billion from SNAP is just wrong," Rep. McGovern said. "Why demonize and attack poor people like this? Why go after the working families who are struggling to make ends meet? None of us serving in this Congress is struggling to feed our families. But imagine if you had to look your son or daughter in the eye and tell them that you can't afford dinner tonight; that there just isn't enough money to pay for rent, gas, food and other bills for the rest of the month, so they'll just have to go without. For families like this -- and they are real and there are tens of millions of them -- SNAP is a lifeline. I say all the time that hunger is a political condition. We have the food and the means to end hunger, but we don't have the political will to end it. But to have the political will to actually make hunger worse, as the Republican Leadership is proposing, is unconscionable."