Today, in a vote of 195 to 234, the U.S. House of Representatives defeated the Farm Bill that included $20.5 billion in cuts over the next decade to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps. Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) has been an outspoken advocate in preserving SNAP, and in an effort to protest these draconian cuts, Payne took part in the SNAP Challenge and lived on just $4.50 a day -- the average amount a SNAP recipient receives.
"Today, I was proud to stand up for the most disadvantaged among us. The thought alone of cutting SNAP by twenty billion dollars is completely unconscionable, and I am pleased that the proposed cuts to SNAP were defeated today," said Rep. Payne, Jr. "SNAP is a vital program that helps families that are struggling to make ends meet. In the best nation on Earth, it is astonishing that millions of people, many of whom are children, still go hungry. As leaders we have a responsibility to protect our children and promote the well-being of the most vulnerable. I'm happy we did that today."
Over the last year alone, the percentage of New Jerseyans on SNAP has risen by 10 percent and now 860,000 people in NJ are on the program. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in New Jersey, forty-five percent of those on SNAP are children, 20 percent are families with children, 15 percent are disabled, and 11 percent are elderly. The $20.5 billion in cuts to the program would have eliminated more than 2 million eligible recipients on SNAP and eliminate the free lunch program in schools for more than 200,000 children. Further, the cuts would have come on top of cuts to the program already set to go into effect in November.
"Preserving the SNAP program is not only the right thing to do, but it is the best thing to do for our economy since economists agree that maintaining funding for the SNAP program is the best way to boost growth in a weak economy," continued Rep. Payne, Jr. "Without this funding, not only will families suffer, but our local economies in New Jersey will suffer, too."
According to Moody's Analytics, every dollar increase in SNAP generates $1.70 in economic activity. Similarly, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has rated SNAP benefit increases one of the most cost-effective options for increasing job growth in a weak economy.
"This fight isn't over," said Rep. Payne, Jr. "The bill will go back to committee, and many of my colleagues will try again to make cuts to SNAP, but I will continue to be a tireless advocate for the most vulnerable among us. Because never in our nation's history have we ever cut our way to prosperity. Our nation prospers only when we invest and grow. It's time the House GOP starts working on a jobs bill to grow our economy, rather than looking for ways to cut programs that serve the most vulnerable, the most underserved, and the most disadvantaged among us."