A GOP lawmaker has drafted a bill to outlaw the provision of food stamps to individuals convicted of terrorist offenses.
Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine presented the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives Feb. 1, according to the Hill.
Access to the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is currently prohibited for those convicted of drug-related offenses unless a state waives the restriction. The ban also applies to peole convicted of violent crimes like rape and murder if they are not complying with their sentence terms.
“This is a classic example of a loophole in federal law that we can fix and hopefully fix quickly,” Poliquin told the Bangor Daily News. “It absolutely makes no sense whatsoever to have folks who are trying to kill us, and have been successful to some degree, to provide welfare for them. It’s just crazy.”
The Republican acknowledged that he was not aware of anyone ever having received food stamps who had a conviction for a terrorist-related offense.
He did, however, point to 49 people currently serving prison sentences in the U.S. for terrorist-related crimes who would be released over the next 25 years.
“I cannot imagine any member of the House of Representative or the Senate not wanting to close this loophole,” Poliquin added. “There should be no welfare for terrorists, period.”
Poliquin is up for reelection this year, but he denied the bill was part of a strategy to boost his credentials on national security and appeal to his voter base.
“This has nothing to do with politics,” he said. “This has everything to do with what is right.”
Poliquin’s House colleagues appear less than enthusiastic about the measure. To date, only one Republican has co-sponsored the bill, according to the Hill.
Maine’s two senators, Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King, have yet to take a position on Poliquin’s proposal.
“While Senators Collins and King haven’t seen this bill, they certainly support commonsense solutions aimed at protecting taxpayer money and keeping Mainers safe from terrorism,” a joint statement issued by their communications staff reads, according to the Daily News.