U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement tonight after Senate Democrats voted to reject the amendment, offered by Sessions, to the appropriations package that would have fixed a provision in the quadrupling food stamp budget to prevent billions in funds from being mishandled:
"The agriculture bill we are considering this week--part of three appropriations bills being irresponsibly crammed together--would result in a quadrupling of food stamp funds from their 2001 levels. At a proposed $80 billion a year, food stamps are becoming one of the largest items in our budget--at a time when almost forty percent of what we spend is borrowed. The number of Americans receiving them has increased seven-fold since the program was first expanded nationally. There is little if any oversight of the program, resulting in the extraordinary waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars. To cite just one example, a $2 million lottery winner notified authorities, who in turn informed him that he would not be losing his food stamp benefits. In some cases, the only thing you need to become food-stamp eligible is have a brochure from the federal government be sent to you in the mail.
My amendment would have stripped so-called "categorical eligibility,' which makes people eligible for food stamps simply because they've used or received some other federal benefit. What this means is that even if your assets or income level should make you ineligible, you will receive food stamps regardless. For instance, in one state, simply calling a pregnancy hotline can make you eligible for food stamps--regardless of whether you meet the program's requirements.
This program is not being run honestly, effectively, or fairly. It is deeply disappointing and extremely telling that the Democrat-led Senate voted down even this modest effort to address the almost shameless mishandling of taxpayer funds. We're in a fiscal crisis that is already killing jobs, and these bills just increase spending--and destroy confidence--that much more.
It's time for President Obama to adopt the "Solyndra Rule.' Before the president puts forward a single tax-hike proposal he must first put all of his effort into stripping the egregious spending waste from every corner of the federal budget."