Politics

GOP Proposes Bill Requiring Food Stamp Recipients To Show Photo ID

| by Will Hagle

In a further effort to curb fraud in the federal food stamp program, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced a proposal that would require food stamp users to show photo identification prior to making food purchases, Fox News reports. 

This proposed legislation comes just weeks after Congress approved a controversial farm bill that included massive cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The new bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., is being referred to as the SNAP Verify Act. 

Salmon claims that his bill has been introduced in order to stop fraud from occurring with food stamp purchases.

“My bill simply requires the photo identification of authorized users of SNAP electronic benefit cards at the point of transaction. With over $750 million in SNAP card and food trafficking fraud each year, it is time Congress take action to address the rampant waste in this program,” Salmon said. 

What Salmon fails to understand is that many of the individuals who need federal food assistance the most are unable to obtain photo IDs. For homeless individuals, having an ID or gathering the necessary documents in order to obtain an ID can be a difficult, arduous process blockaded by incredible bureaucratic red tape. For ex-prison inmates, acquiring an ID can be similarly difficult, as prisons notoriously toss out inmates’ belongings, many of which include important documentation. Even for those in possession of the necessary documents, SNAP eligibility and other requirements can be difficult to decipher without some assistance. Getting food to those who need it should be a process made simpler, not more difficult. 

On the other hand, food stamp costs comprise a huge portion of the federal budget, and any effort to stop fraud and trafficking should be carefully considered. Salmon's bill is likely not the answer, but it should serve as an interesting testament to SNAP's future as it progresses through the House of Representatives.