U.S. Congressman Paul Broun, M.D. (GA-10) and other members of the Republican Study Committee introduced legislation today to combine the six food welfare programs in the Farm Bill into a single block grant to states.
The lead sponsors of the legislation -- Rep. Broun, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), and RSC Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) -- offered the following statement:
"Given the nation's $16 trillion of debt, four years of trillion-dollar-plus deficits, and a 297-percent explosion over the last decade in SNAP (food stamp) spending alone, Washington has to get serious about unchecked entitlement growth. In block granting nutrition assistance, as this legislation does, states will not only be able to set the criteria as they see fit, but will be held accountable for the decisions they make. By putting control of the program in the hands of those closest to the taxpayers and the people utilizing the benefits, the American people will have greater opportunity to reward good leadership and punish bad decision-making."
"This legislation builds on the successful welfare reforms of the 1990s that recognized that 50 states have 50 different populations with 50 different priorities. One-size-fits-all does not work with education, health care, or transportation -- it most certainly will not with nutrition assistance. This legislation also rolls back spending to pre-recession levels. If liberals are correct that the nation is better off now than four years ago, then returning to spending levels of four years ago should not be a problem."
This new block grant replaces the following six food welfare programs:
· Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
· The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
· Community Food Projects
· Commodity Supplemental Food Program
· Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program
· Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)
States will have maximum flexibility to implement food welfare programs tailored to the needs of their own populations. Programs established under this block grant will be subject to strong work requirements for able-bodied adults.
Federal funding for this combined block grant would return to 2008-levels. Use of the funds will be subject to annual, independent audits that shall be made available to the U.S. Treasury Secretary, the state legislatures, and the general public. To encourage proactive efforts to root out waste, fraud, and abuse, misused funds must be repaid to American taxpayers with an additional 10% penalty. Funds may not be used to purchase alcohol, tobacco, or other items prohibited by current law.