NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

House Republicans vote to slash food stamps with disgraceful “let them starve” legislation

Once again, we have occa­sion to say: So much for com­pas­sion­ate con­ser­vatism.

By a vote of two hun­dred and sev­en­teen to two hun­dred and ten, the Repub­li­can-con­trolled U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has vot­ed to make sig­nif­i­cant and destruc­tive cuts to SNAP, the Sup­ple­men­tal Nutri­tion Assis­tance Pro­gram, col­lo­qui­al­ly known as food stamps. Their leg­is­la­tion reduces fund­ing for SNAP by $4 bil­lion a year and would per­mit states (espe­cial­ly Repub­li­can-run states) to make drug tests or work require­ments a pre­req­ui­site for nutri­tion­al assis­tance.

To put their cuts in per­spec­tive, the amount of mon­ey that would be “saved” annu­al­ly under this scheme isn’t enough to even buy a third of a new Ger­ald R. Ford class air­craft car­ri­er (which the Unit­ed States is com­mit­ted to build­ing two of).

Repub­li­cans are per­fect­ly will­ing to spend huge amounts of mon­ey acquir­ing guns, tanks, and big ships, but when it comes to tak­ing care of Amer­i­ca’s most vul­ner­a­ble — for­get about it. They’d rather use Amer­i­ca’s com­mon wealth to buy bombs than help peo­ple who have noth­ing or very lit­tle to eat put some food on their table.

It’s just dis­grace­ful. As Pat­ty Mur­ray likes to say, they’ve got the wrong pri­or­i­ties.

Not a sin­gle Demo­c­rat vot­ed for the bill, and fif­teen Repub­li­cans vot­ed against it, includ­ing Don Young of Alas­ka, who appar­ent­ly lis­tened to his con­science pri­or to cast­ing a vote. The roll call for the Pacif­ic North­west was as fol­lows:

Vot­ing Aye: Repub­li­cans Doc Hast­ings, Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers, Dave Reichert (WA); Greg Walden (OR); Steve Daines (MT); Raúl Labrador and Mike Simp­son (ID)

Vot­ing Nay: Democ­rats Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Jim McDer­mott, Den­ny Heck, and Adam Smith (WA); Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrad­er (OR); Repub­li­can Don Young (AK)

Not Vot­ing: Repub­li­can Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler (WA)

Many Democ­rats deliv­ered force­ful speech­es in oppo­si­tion to H.R. 3102. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lloyd Doggett of Texas appro­pri­ate­ly referred to the leg­is­la­tion as a “let them starve” bill. Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Nan­cy Pelosi deliv­ered an elo­quent, thought­ful speech against the bill, in which she not­ed:

The Repub­li­can pro­pos­al on the floor today slash­es at, on the legs on which many of these peo­ple stand. Indeed, cut­ting these invest­ments is a full assault on the health and eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty of mil­lions of fam­i­lies. Con­sid­er this: one in five chil­dren, and it will soon become one in four, but one in five chil­dren strug­gle with hunger and near­ly half of all SNAP recip­i­ents are chil­dren; near­ly four mil­lion Amer­i­cans over age 60 rely on nutri­tion assis­tance; five thou­sand active-duty mil­i­tary fam­i­lies, active-duty [mil­i­tary] fam­i­lies rely on SNAP, depend on SNAP; near­ly three mil­lion vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies don’t get enough to eat each month, and this bill will jeop­ar­dize food assis­tance for as many as 170,000 vet­er­ans.

Empha­sis is mine.

U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzan Del­Bene, who rep­re­sents NPI’s home con­gres­sion­al dis­trict, scold­ed Repub­li­cans for wast­ing every­one’s time with a scheme to slash SNAP when they know it has no chance of pass­ing the U.S. Sen­ate or being signed into law by Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma. (The White House has made it plain­ly clear the bill passed by the Repub­li­cans would be vetoed right away).

Del­Bene’s floor remarks were as fol­lows:

Madam Speak­er, we’re debat­ing an extreme bill with no chance of becom­ing law, when we could be weeks into con­fer­enc­ing a farm bill.

SNAP has pre­vent­ed mil­lions from falling into pover­ty.  In the west­ern part of Wash­ing­ton state, 690,000 peo­ple are still expe­ri­enc­ing hunger—and we should not be arbi­trar­i­ly cut­ting off aid.

This bill would force states to cut off peo­ple strug­gling to find a job, also strip­ping them of trans­porta­tion and child­care assis­tance. If states don’t com­ply, they lose funds for SNAP Employ­ment and Train­ing pro­grams, like the mod­el pro­gram we have in Wash­ing­ton State that has led many to self-suf­fi­cien­cy.

Even at the height of the reces­sion, 60% in Washington’s pro­grams found employ­ment and more than half were off assis­tance two years after the pro­gram.

House lead­er­ship says this bill will lead to more peo­ple work­ing. But how does cut­ting pro­grams proven to help peo­ple find jobs accom­plish this?

All this bill does is cut the life­line for 3.8 mil­lion hun­gry Amer­i­can fam­i­lies, chil­dren, vet­er­ans and seniors.

This bill is not a seri­ous pro­pos­al. Vote no.

Thank­ful­ly, H.R. 3102 will be dead on arrival in the Sen­ate. Sen­a­tor Deb­bie Stabenow of Michi­gan has already flat­ly pro­nounced the bill dead, call­ing it a mon­u­men­tal waste of time. We agree. We can’t think of many pieces of leg­is­la­tion that are more deserv­ing of a quick bur­ial than this trav­es­ty of a bill.

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2 Comments

  1. Do do you think peo­ple should have to go with­out food or have a decent job?

    # by Juan V :: September 19th, 2013 at 6:06 PM
  2. Thank you Republicans!.…Thank You again, for reaf­firm­ing my con­vic­tion about Repub­li­cans, and *any­one* who leans right ! (sic).

    This — $$$$ — is your God!

    I mean, you Repub­li­cans love cor­po­rate wel­fare, but hate human wel­fare (way to fol­low the Con­sti­tu­tion!)

    I mean, you have no prob­lem car­ry­ing water for large cor­po­ra­tions, many of which pay almost no tax­es.

    But here, you heart­less Repub­li­cans cut food stamps for peo­ple who tru­ly need help.

    Keep it up boys.…And even though I’m agnos­tic… If there is any God of jus­tice out there, after our last breath, he will sure­ly take acts like these into account when he makes His Judg­ment!

    Edi­tor’s note: This com­ment has been edit­ed to com­ply with NPI’s Com­ment­ing Guide­lines.

    # by Rohinton Irani :: September 19th, 2013 at 6:53 PM