In a vote taken late Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, in a 217-210 vote.
The bill would not directly affect many households with children, but would grant certain benefits to schools. It would also cut benefits to hundreds of thousands of adults.
The total cuts would be divided over 10 years, for $4 billion in cuts annually and $40 billion overall. The Democrat-controlled Senate will probably kill the bill instantly, and President Obama threatened a veto if it did pass.
Food stamps lifted four million Americans out of poverty in 2012, and this bill’s cuts would have taken 1.8 million Americans out of SNAP. The bill, H.R. 3102, would allow states to institute work requirements that could disqualify hundreds of thousands from benefit eligibility.
Republicans want the public to know that households with children would be unaffected so long as they don’t exceed the maximum income set by SNAP guidelines. (States have been allowed to exceed that threshold recently, so this bill would affect those families, too.) The big hit is to the 1.7 million unemployed, childless adults who would lose their benefits.
As for schools, the bill would promote farm-to-school programs, which have started to take off in the past few years as schools look for fresh produce, especially under pressure from federal guidelines to include more fruits and vegetables.
The bill also authorizes a three-year pilot program for up to five states, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture, to receive grant funds for fresh fruits and vegetables.
And, for kicks, the bill would authorize a review of the nutritional benefits of white potatoes in low-income families. Potatoes have major defenders in Congress, where spud proponents blocked a 2011 attempt by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to limit servings of potatoes in school lunches.
H.R. 3102 complements earlier legislation, a long-delayed farm bill, that the House passed in July after stripping away reauthorization for nutrition assistance.
Fifteen Republicans voted against Thursday’s measure.
Here is the full text.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.