The House and Senate are currently meeting to discuss renewing the nation’s farm bill, but the issue at the forefront of the negotiations is whether or not to cut funding to the nation’s food stamp program. At this point, the House has passed a version of the bill that would cut $4 billion annually from the budget of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. The new House revisions also include updates to work and eligibility requirements, making it more difficult for individuals to obtain access to the program. The Democratic-led Senate, however, opposes any significant cuts to the program, and has backing from President Obama.
House Republicans claim the bill includes several provisions that prevent fraud from occurring with ineligible individuals attempting to obtain SNAP benefits.
According to Fox News, the new anti-fraud provisions of the bill target owners and employees of stores that use EBT as payment to traffic non-SNAP benefits such as “cash, cigarettes, drugs and guns.” It also targets individuals that are receiving benefits despite their ineligibility for the program, although officials estimate that that instance of fraud has led to only $3.7 million in questionable payouts throughout the country, which is a relatively small portion of SNAP’s $70 billion in annual payouts.
Since the country’s economic crisis, enrollment in SNAP has increased 70% to benefit 44 million Americans, according to Fox News. This, of course, leads to higher spending by the government, which is already in significant debt.
Yet again Congress is presented with a problem that directly addresses the varying ideological opinions as to how the country should move forward as it addresses its economic crises — expanding the role of the government to benefit those in need, or cutting budgets of federal programs in order to improve the economy. Neither answer is likely to solve the immense issues occurring in the country, but the struggles within the House and Senate are definitely important ones that have a tangible effect on Americans.