In the ongoing battle to reach a consensus over the 2017 Congressional budget, cuts to food stamps are on the table in a big way.
House Republicans, including Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are eyeing $23 billion in cuts to food stamps in the next decade, Roll Call reported. The proposed cuts are part of a planned $170 billion in spending cuts designed as a concession to Tea Party Republicans to pave the way for Congress to pass a budget for 2017. The plan could be on the House floor in just two weeks.
The food stamp cuts would not be uniform, but apply to able-bodied recipients who do not have children and those who currently receive greater benefits from already-in-place home-heating subsidies. The cuts make up only a small part of the 10-year budget for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which is estimated to be around $720 million.
Paul Ryan has struggled to unite House Republicans around a 2017 budget plan. While establishment Republicans are content to pass a spending bill that is effectively equal to the one passed for 2016, the Freedom Caucus of Tea Party Republicans in the House demands more cuts. Many in the GOP see the food stamp program as a problematic gateway program to economic dependence on the government.
Ryan took over as speaker last year after former Ohio Rep. John Boehner resigned the post amid frustrations over dealing with his party on this very issue. Ryan hopes to be better able to unite the party.
“Look, we want to do a budget. It’s very clear,” Ryan, told reporters in March, according to Salon. “The question we have is do we have the votes to pass a budget? That’s the conversation we’re having with our members.”