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In Congress, a fight over food stamps reached its latest peak after the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday to cut $40 billion from the program over the next 10 years.
In justifying the cut, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor declared it was "wrong for working, middle-class people to pay" for abuse of the increasingly costly food stamp program, Reuters reports. The vote was 217-210, mostly along party lines.
What could this mean for Americans relying on food stamp assistance?
Deep Cuts From Food Stamp Bill
The House version of the food stamp bill threatens deep cuts to a program that has helped countless Americans. Nearly 48 million people have received food stamps at one point, with "85 percent of them children, elderly, or disabled," Reuters reports.
According to The New York Times, the Republican-backed bill attempts to curb spending in the program by "eliminat[ing] loopholes" and "ensur[ing] work requirements."
Currently, Americans who are unemployed can apply for food stamps and continue to receive them while receiving unemployment and other insurance benefits.
If this bill becomes law, "able-bodied adults" with no dependents could receive a maximum of three months of food stamps in a three-year period unless they participate in a work program, Reuters reports.
This new law would also place limits on state programs which allow extension of benefits past three months, reports the Times. And it would require food stamp recipients to be tested for drugs.
Still Just a Bill, Sitting on Capitol Hill...
Luckily for those receiving government aid for food, this bill cutting funding for food stamps is not currently a law.
To become a law, the bill must also be approved by the U.S. Senate and then by President Obama, who as of Wednesday has vowed to veto the bill to prevent destroying "one of our nation's strongest defenses against hunger and poverty," reports Reuters.
Supporters of the bill worry that the current food stamp programs enables a culture of dependency on government assistance, as well as placing the burden of this obligation on the ever-pressured middle class.
The fight over food stamps will continue into the Senate, but those who wish to apply or learn more about food stamps can do so here.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.