WASHINGTON — 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. Fifteen Republicans voted against the measure.
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.
House conservatives, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., have said the almost $80 billion-a-year program has become bloated. More than 47 million Americans are now on food stamps, and the program’s cost more than doubled in the last five years as the economy struggled through the Great Recession. Democrats said the rise in the rolls during tough economic times showed the program was doing its job. The White House has threatened a veto.
House leaders were still shoring up votes on the bill just hours before the vote. To make their case, Republican leaders emphasized that the bill targets able-bodied adults who don’t have dependents.