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Thune, Stutzman introduce bill to reform food stamp program

 

Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) and Congressman Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) have introduced legislation that would save $30 billion over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by eliminating loopholes, waste, fraud, and abuse, while ensuring those who meet the current income and asset eligibility requirements continue to receive the benefits they need.

Since President Obama assumed office, participation in SNAP, which was formerly referred to as food stamps, has increased from 32 million to 47.8 million people, and annual spending on SNAP has doubled to $80 billion in fiscal year 2012. Over the next 10 years, SNAP is projected to cost taxpayers almost $760 billion. The Streamlining the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Act would eliminate $30 billion of needless spending over 10 years and target assistance to those who need it most by making eligibility requirements more credible, eliminating duplication, closing loopholes, and making benefit administrators more responsible for program integrity.

“Our bill would eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in the food stamp program, while ensuring a strong safety net for hungry families in greatest need,” said Thune. “Since President Obama came into office, SNAP participation has increased at 10 times the rate of job creation, the annual spending on SNAP has doubled, and one in seven Americans now participates in SNAP. This explosive growth in both the SNAP enrollment and federal cost of the program is alarming and requires lawmakers to take cost-effective legislative control measures. Our bill would ensure that benefits are available for needy families by maintaining system integrity and reducing waste in the system. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this common-sense legislation through Congress in the Farm Bill.”

“By closing loopholes, cutting waste, and eliminating fraud and abuse in SNAP, we save taxpayers $30 billion and make sure that families in need still receive a helping hand,” Stutzman stated. “Everyone in Washington talks about deficit reduction but we’ve introduced a real, responsible plan to save taxpayer dollars. Over the past decade, SNAP spending has doubled as this program outgrows its original mission of providing temporary assistance. This is a common-sense start for Congress’ farm bill discussions as we look for ways to tackle Washington’s nearly $17 trillion debt.”

The Thune-Stutzman bill would limit the automatic qualification of an individual for SNAP benefits due to enrollment in other low-income programs, known as categorical eligibility, to only those individuals receiving cash assistance. Additionally, their bill would close a loophole that allows states to send small energy assistance checks to SNAP participants in order to increase SNAP benefit payments, eliminate duplicative training programs and state performance bonuses, improve the quality control measures to ensure states are more aggressively penalized for improper payments, and reform the nutrition education and obesity program. This bill would not affect current benefit levels for SNAP recipients, but instead saves money by ending duplicative programs and holding states accountable for accurate program administration.