The House voted Thursday to slash nearly $40 billion from food stamps over the next decade, but the president has said he'll veto it if it comes to his desk. Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.
All but a handful of Republicans supported it. Every Democrat who voted opposed it.
The bill would require more adults to be employed or enrolled in job training programs in order to get food stamps. That would effectively kick nearly 4 million people off the rolls.
"I have an empty plate because that's what so many of my constituents would see if this bill became law," said Rep. Joe Crowley, whose district covers sections of Queens and the Bronx.
Democrats also complain that the proposal would force states to make a choice: cut off food assistance to the unemployed or lose federal funding for job training programs.
"It would make it more difficult for people to get jobs, and at the same time, it would take the food stamps away from them," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose district covers parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Republicans argue that their goal is not to hurt anyone, but to put the brakes on a program that has 48 million participants at a cost of about $80 billion a year.
"I think tightening down on some of the eligibility pieces, but not denying food stamps to anyone who deserves them," said Rep. Chris Collins of Collins, N.Y.
Moderate Republicans agree with that idea, but they say their own party's proposal goes too far.
"I do like the reforms on work. I think that's an extremely important part of this," said Rep. Michael Grimm, whose district covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. "But the cuts are just too much."
The fight over food stamps has been going on for months. Republicans had initially proposed cutting $20 billion from the program, but that bill was opposed by Democrats, who thought the cuts were too deep, and conservative Republicans, who thought they weren't deep enough. It died on the House floor earlier this summer.
President Barack Obama has said he'd veto this latest bill if it made it to his desk.
"This is not going to become law, and it's another political exercise of the extremists in Congress," said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of Newburgh, N.Y.
The House must now negotiate with the Senate, which has proposed a smaller cut of $4 billion. It's a wide gap that no one is sure how to bridge.