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GOP Targets Food Stamps For Nearly $40 Billion In Cuts

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A Federal food stamps card that is used to purchase food.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A Federal food stamps card that is used to purchase food. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Late Thursday evening, the House of Representatives voted to slash the budget for the nation’s food-stamp program by $39 billion over the next ten years.

The bill was passed by a razor thin margin of 217 to 210, with 15 Republicans voting against the bill and five Democrats missing the vote. The bill was pushed hard by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Typically, the food stamp budget is included in the farm bill, but when the farm bill died because the food stamp cuts were too deep; Cantor decided to split the bills in two to try to forge passage through the House.

The bill targets “able-bodied adults without dependents” to take the biggest share of the cuts. The bill requires those people to receive food stamps for only three months per three-year period unless they are working at least 20 hours a week or participating in a job training program.

However, with jobs and training programs being very scarce for much of the nation’s working poor; Governors have sought waivers to keep all people who need it on food stamps for a longer period of time to help ease the economic hardships.

The bill will siphon off $19 billion from unemployed childless adults even when jobs are scarce over the next 10 years. The bill will also eliminate food stamps based on “expanded categorical eligibility,” according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Those two areas alone will see the full brunt of the loss of SNAP with 3.8 million being taken off food stamp eligibility by 2014. The bill will also encourage states to end food stamps for poor families that cannot find work, according to the CBPP.

The bill could be especially devastating in South Florida where at least 16.5 percent of families with children in Broward County live below the poverty line and 24.9 percent of the same families live below the poverty line in Miami-Dade County.

In Miami-Dade County, food stamp usage rose from 14 percent in 2008 to 26 percent in 2012. During the same five year period, Broward County’s food stamp usage doubled from 6 percent to 12 percent. All of it coming as the uneven economic recovery continues across the area.

Two Miami-Dade representatives, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen voted to make the deep cuts to SNAP despite the area’s dependence on the program during the current recovery.

The bill, as currently structured, will not pass the Democratically-led Senate or the White House. However, the Senate has been open to some cuts to SNAP, just not the size or scope of the ones passed by the House on Thursday.

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