Vitter headshot 2
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana.

If Sen. David Vitter, R-La., gets his way, low-income Americans receiving government benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps, will have to show a valid photo ID before making purchases with the federal funds.

Vitter introduced the legislation on Wednesday in an effort to rid the program of fraud and make it more accountable. Those illegally using another’s food stamps card will be purged from the program.

“Using a photo ID is standard in many day to day transactions, and most of those are not exclusively paid for by taxpayer dollars,” Vitter said in statement.

People in more than 13 states, including Louisiana, were unable to make purchases with their food stamp debit cards last October, following a system failure that removed the spending limits for the program beneficiaries. The Times-Picayune reported that some beneficiaries used the malfunction to their advantage and bought more than allowed under their monthly limit.

“The events in Louisiana unfortunately highlight the fraud surrounding the taxpayer-funded program,” Vitter said, after stating that food stamps have more than doubled in cost since five years ago. “My bill will restore some accountability to the program so it’s not ruined for people who use it appropriately.”

But some groups that advocate for the poor are criticizing Vitter’s bill, saying those at an economic disadvantage are not able to get a photo ID.

Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, told the New Orleans paper that the senator’s proposal will be especially hard for the elderly and others without required documents to access identification.

“[Some] will struggle even to get to the necessary offices,” she said. “They will wind up going without food.”

Weinstein said if the senator wants a solution to the glitch, he should focus on holding the state-paid contractor responsible.