WASHINGTON – A hunger-relief group expressed deep concerns with a House GOP bill that would cap spending on food stamps, fearing it would target the least well-off and disproportionately harm children.
"We're very concerned that the food stamps provisions take us in exactly the wrong direction given the economic climate and the increased food security needs of Americans," Lisa Davis, vice president of policy at Feeding America, told Raw Story.
The bill, H.R. 1135, was introduced by Republican Reps. Jim Jordan (OH), Tim Scott (SC), Scott Garrett (NJ), Dan Burton (IN), and Louie Gohmert (TX). Its aim, in part, is "to provide an overall spending limit on means-tested welfare programs."
Davis said 44 million people participate in food stamps each month – the figure increased 62 percent between 2007 and 2009.
"Any kinds of changes that start to weaken the food safety net are going to increase the burden on communities across America," she said, noting that half of all beneficiaries of food stamps are children.
A Moody's study found in 2008 found food stamps to be the most economically stimulative federal program during high unemployment.
The legislation also reaffirms a a controversial law that dates back to 1981, which limits access to food stamps for entire families if a single member is on strike.
Titled "Striking Workers Ineligible," subsection (3) of the legislation's clause (II), section (d) states: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no member of a family unit shall participate in the food stamp program at any time that any able-bodied work eligible adult member of such household is on strike."
A qualifier to the provision is that a family cannot lose its eligibility "if the household was eligible immediately prior to such strike," but families will be denied higher allotments that may otherwise result from the drop in income while a member is on strike.
"On Strike? Republicans Don't Want Your Family to Eat," responded the AFL-CIO on its website, calling it another in a series of GOP "attacks on working families and their unions."
Clarification: This article has been revised to reflect that the striking workers provision dates back to 1981, while the impact of H.R. 1135 is to place caps on food stamp spending.
[via Zaid Jilani]