Partisan differences over limiting SNAP spending, more than 80 percent of the farm bill, were on full display at a Senate Ag subcommittee hearing. Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman chaired his first Senate hearing as he returned from treatment for clinical depression after a stroke last year.
Fetterman; “Hunger is not a Republican or a Democrat issue. It’s all of our issue that we have to take on. We need to come together and stop playing political games with Americans’ access to food.”
The panel’s top Republican, Mike Braun, is planning to offer a food box pilot and his “Hand Up Act” to boost state efforts to find jobs for able-bodied adults without dependents. Braun; “Today, 18 states including California and New York, operate with full state waivers. And, in fact, half of SNAP’s ABAWDs live in waived areas, many of which actually have low unemployment and ample job listings.”
But it was a GOP farm bill push to force more recipients to work after pandemic-deferred requirements revive, that prompted this from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Ty Jones-Cox; “Any attempt to expand SNAP’s existing harsh work reporting requirements rely on faulty assumptions. Research shows that taking SNAP benefits away from people doesn’t help them find jobs or higher earnings. It just leaves them and their families with less money for food.”
But, from James Whitford, head of Watered Gardens Ministries, Missouri’s largest private anti-poverty group; “Dependency is a national epidemic. Consider for just a moment that there are more people who are dependent on federal anti-poverty programs than there are people living in poverty. Just in the food stamp program alone, we have five million people who are above the poverty line.”
And the fight over SNAP spending is complicating the path to a farm bill due by September 30th. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is proposing added work requirements in his plan to cut the budget and raise the debt limit. Ranking House Ag Democrat David Scott calls it “Un-American, ungodly, and dead-on-arrival.”