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Griffin: Bill Preserves "Safety Net for Those Who Truly Need it' While Spending Taxpayer Dollars More Wisely

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement after House passage of the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act (H.R. 3102):

"The unprecedented expansion of welfare eligibility by the Obama Administration has discouraged work and encouraged waste, fraud and abuse. As we learned from President Clinton's successful 1996 welfare reforms, modest work requirements combined with support for working parents can help reduce poverty and improve communities. I am proud to support this bill, which saves taxpayers nearly $40 billion by reinstating those successful reforms and preserves the safety net for those who truly need it."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a record high of 23,116,928 American households -- more than one-fifth of all households nationwide -- were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in June.

H.R. 3102 will:

Ensure that the successful 1996 welfare reform work requirements for able-bodied adults without children are enforced
Eliminate "categorically eligibility" so that merely receiving a welfare-funded brochure or referral to an "800" number will not automatically guarantee eligibility for SNAP
Close the "heat-and-eat loophole" where food stamp benefits are increased above what individuals are entitled to received
Prevent taxpayer-funded food stamp advertising campaigns, including efforts to promote U.S. welfare programs in other countries
Encourage states to place able-bodied parents in work and job training opportunities as a requisite for receiving food stamps
Ensure that illegal immigrants, lottery winners, convicted rapists, pedophiles and murderers are not eligible for welfare benefits

Facts about the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act:

MYTH: The House nutrition bill will drop up to six million food stamp recipients off the benefit rolls.

FACT: The number able-bodied adults without dependents between the ages of 18 and 50 collecting welfare benefits has grown by an astonishing 163.7 percent from 2007 to 2011, in part because of President Obama waiving President Clinton's successful welfare reform requirements.

The House bill will require states to follow the 1996 welfare reform law's restriction on eligibility for this group unless these beneficiaries obtain employment, participate in job training activities, or perform voluntary community service activities in exchange for their benefits. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office project a maximum of 1.5 million will no longer receive benefits.

MYTH: Cutting food stamps isn't really about saving money because the House is also bumping up spending on crop insurance for farmers in their farm bill.

FACT: While the House Farm bill increases spending on crop insurance, it also cuts or eliminates other commodities programs so that total spending benefiting farmers is reduced by 8.9 percent over the next decade and the House nutrition bill reduces nutrition program spending by 5.1 percent.

MYTH: The House nutrition bill cuts spending on food stamps, which will increase hunger in America.

FACT: Anti-hunger organizations are well intentioned, but many mistakenly equate spending levels on federal nutrition programs with reducing hunger in America. The large drop in child hunger that occurred between 1995 and 2003 coincided with a period of declining spending on the Food Stamp program, and was directly linked to increased work participation among low-income single parents. Nearly three million children were lifted out of poverty during this period and poverty among black children fell to its lowest level ever. As estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the incidence of childhood hunger was cut in half.

MYTH: The House nutrition bill will cause 200,000 children to be dropped from receiving free lunches under the school lunch program.

FACT: The House nutrition bill does not change the School Lunch Program. If a child is part of a household enrolled in the food stamp program, that child is eligible for free meals in the school lunch and breakfast programs. If a family's income meet the requirements for free meals in the school lunch program, their children will continue to receive free meals. If family's income exceeds program eligibility levels for free meals, their children may qualify for reduced price meals.

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