WASHINGTON — House Republicans are preparing legislation that would cut food stamps by as much as $4 billion annually in an effort to downsize a program that many conservatives say has become too bloated in recent years.
A group of Republicans led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has agreed to try to advance the legislation as early as next month. The measure would reduce the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program by as much as 5 percent. House conservatives have urged major cuts as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, has doubled in cost since 2008.
The bill is certain to face strong opposition from the Democratic Senate and President Barack Obama, who have opposed major cuts to the program. They say cuts could drop millions of Americans off the rolls when they are already struggling from the Great Recession.
Reps. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, two Republicans who helped design the bill, said the legislation would find the savings by tightening eligibility standards and imposing new work requirements. It would also likely try to reduce the rolls by requiring drug testing and barring convicted murderers, rapists and pedophiles from receiving food stamps.
Many provisions in the proposed bill were included in farm legislation defeated on the House floor in June, though several were added by amendment. The original farm bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee would have cut food stamps by about $2 billion a year, but conservatives revolted against the bill even after adding additional savings through amendments, saying the cuts weren't high enough.
After the farm bill defeat, Republican leaders split the legislation in two and passed a bill in July that included only farm programs. They promised a food stamp bill to come later, with deeper cuts.