WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The House has voted to cut nearly $4 billion a year from food stamps, a 5 percent reduction to the nation's main feeding program used by more than 1 in 7 Americans.
The 217-210 vote was a win for conservatives after Democrats united in opposition and some GOP moderates said the cut was too high.
The bill's savings would be achieved by allowing states to put broad new work requirements in place for many food stamp recipients and to test applicants for drugs. The bill also would end government waivers that have allowed able-bodied adults without dependents to receive food stamps indefinitely.
Missouri Congressman Billy Long (R-7th District) was among the "yes" votes. He released a statement soon after saying, "This legislation makes the first reforms to SNAP while promoting a strong safety net. It simply reforms the food stamps program to serve those most in need, while ensuring the fiscal well-being of our nation during these difficult economic times."
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-4th District) also voted in favor, saying, "Our bill will not take a single calorie out of the mouths of children, the elderly, or those who are disabled. All individuals who qualify for food stamps will continue to receive nutritional assistance."
The major cuts were designed to satisfy House conservatives who rejected more moderate reductions to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) earlier this year, but with millions of Americans still struggling to recover from the recession, Democrats balked at the GOP bill.
The bill will likely never see the light of day in the Democratic-led Senate, but even if it somehow made it through the Senate, President Obama has promised to veto the legislation.
"These cuts would affect a broad array of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including working families with children, senior citizens, veterans, and adults who are still looking for work," the White House said in a statement on the bill.
The cost of SNAP has more than doubled since 2008, coming to nearly $78 billion last year. In 2007, the percentage of American households that lacked sufficient access to food stood at 11.1 percent, but it increased to 14.6 percent in 2008 as the recession hit. That figure has remained virtually unchanged since then, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in September, with 14.5 percent of households that were "food insecure" in 2012.