Guest post from Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA): Today, Congressman John Garamendi, a rancher, pear farmer, and a Member of the House Agriculture Committee, voted against H.R. 3102, a partisan bill that would slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by nearly $40 billion, thereby denying food assistance to at least four million low-income Americans. The measure narrowly passed the House by a vote of 217 to 210.
Congressman John Garamendi released the following statement:
“We live in the richest nation on earth, yet one in five American children go to bed hungry. Nearly 50 million Americans, including many of our friends and neighbors in Northern California, struggle to put food on the table – through no fault of their own. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) plays a vital role in feeding the hungry, preventing millions from slipping into destitution, and helping people get themselves back on their feet. Indeed, more than 9 in 10 Americans on SNAP are children, seniors, disabled, or already working.
“SNAP has been a bipartisan success story. As President Reagan said, ‘As long as there is one person in this country who is hungry, that’s one person too many, and something must be done about it.’ This week, bipartisan Senate Leaders Bob Dole and Tom Daschle wrote an op-ed urging Congress to ‘Stop playing politics with hunger’ and reject this bill. They also point out that ongoing improvements to regulate the program have kept fraud and abuse to an historic low of less than 2%. The bipartisan Farm Bill passed by the Senate this year continues these reforms.
“H.R. 3102 breaks with this bipartisan tradition. The bill throws a monkey wrench into the work requirements for SNAP recipients found in the 1990s Welfare Reform Law. It eliminates employment opportunities by cutting job training programs. The bill’s pernicious legislative text would encourage states to pocket the savings from taking food away from their most impoverished residents. H.R. 3102 would take away school breakfast and lunch for 210,000 children. The bill would eliminate food assistance for one in five veterans and hundreds of thousands of seniors, disabled people, and low-income working Americans. At a time when so many Americans are struggling to get by, these draconian cuts would plunge even more people into extreme poverty.
“This bill will also weaken our nation’s farm and rural economies and jeopardize any chance of passing a new farm bill to support our nation’s farmers, ranchers, food security, conservation, and rural communities.”
Facts on SNAP:
- Every dollar spent on reducing hunger adds $1.70 to the economy
- The number and percent of people who struggle with hunger (i.e. meet the USDA definition of “food insecure”) in California’s Third Congressional District counties: Solano: 64,360 (15.6%), Sacramento: 243,470(17.3%), Yolo: 35,100 (17.6%), Sutter: 19,000 (20.2%), Yuba: 15,290 (21.3%), Colusa: 4,210 (19.8%), Lake: 12,990 (20.2%), Glenn: 5,080 (18.1%).
- The number and percent of children who struggle with hunger: Solano: 21,120 (20.7%), Sacramento: 86,390 (23.8%), Yolo: 10,960 (24.4%), Sutter: 8,110 (31.1%), Yuba: 6,910 (33%), Colusa: 2,120 (19.8%), Lake: 4,530 (32.7%), Glenn: 2,350 (29.7%)
- The rate of fraud and abuse in SNAP is less than 2%.
- By contrast, the rate of error and fraud in the federal income tax system equals about 15 % of taxes legally owed. That is, about 15 % of the income taxes that are owed go unpaid.
- The House bill eliminates food assistance for more than 170,000 veterans, or nearly one in five veterans. An estimated 3 million veterans and their families don’t get enough to eat each month.
- One in five children (16 million) struggle with hunger, a record high.
- 22 million of all SNAP recipients are children (45% of the total).
- There are nearly 4 million people over age 60 who are enrolled in SNAP, with the typical senior household with an average income under $10,000
- In 2011, SNAP lifted the incomes of more than 1 million women above the poverty line.
- Nearly 1 in 4 American Indians and Alaskan natives struggled with hunger in 2008.
- The average SNAP benefit equates to roughly $1.40 per person per meal
- There are two million fewer jobs than at the start of the recession
- SNAP currently has work requirements which can be waived by the states during times of high unemployment. 46 states – including almost every Republican Governor – have sought waivers in FY13 to provide SNAP for those looking for work and repeatedly over the last ten years.
- SNAP recipients live in all areas of the country – about 40 percent live in urban areas, 40 percent in suburban areas, and 20 percent in rural areas.
- Sources and Resources: Agriculture Committee Short Summary of the bill, LA Times Article by Senators Dole and Daschle, Inspector General of the United States Department of Agriculture, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, Feeding America, Agriculture Committee detailed summary, and Feed Our Vets.