WASHINGTON -- Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are considering a new food stamp bill that would cut nutrition assistance by twice as much as a previous bill that died on the House floor last month.
The previous measure would have reduced spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by $20.5 billion over 10 years, or roughly 2 percent of the program's $800 billion cost in that time frame.
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), one of the Republicans huddling on food stamps since then, said the new proposal would have deeper cuts.
“The total package was looked at more from the policy stand point rather than dollars," Noem said, according to CQ/Roll Call. "I think the total cuts are projected to be about $40 billion of reduction in spending on the nutrition title.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) echoed that number during a lunch in Washington with members of the Agribusiness Club, according to Agri-Pulse, a farm industry paper.
"The House Committee’s comprehensive bill saves $20.5 billion," Lucas said. He continued that if the Congressional Budget Office "scores" the legislation as saving something like $40 billion over 10 years, "Don't be surprised."
A GOP aide confirmed the House nutrition working group was nearing a proposal that could cut as much as $40 billion from SNAP, but said the framework had not been finalized. Whatever the House passes would have to be merged with the Senate's farm bill, which cut less than 1 percent from SNAP.
The House's earlier food stamp cuts would have trimmed nearly 2 million Americans from the program, which currently supports about 47 million. That proposal failed as part of a broader farm bill when Democrats withdrew their support following a Republican amendment that made the cuts even steeper.
Democrats are already denouncing the new plan. "This mean-spirited plan to slash nutrition programs is not the way forward," Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said in a statement. "Instead, it’s a blueprint to more suffering for vulnerable Americans that has little chance of securing significant bipartisan support in the House or the Senate."