After months of talking up potential changes to the food stamp program (SNAP – supplemental nutrition assistance program), GOP congressional leaders are now indicating they will not to try to change the program in the upcoming fiscal year.
While this has been met with relief in some quarters (including the anti-hunger coalition), it also heralds what may become a bruising, multi-year debate over one of the nation’s largest programs…a debate that could continue until the next farm bill comes up.
The debate is already taking place. Republican House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway has started “what he calls a top-to-bottom review of the food-stamp program with no preconceived notions.”
A House version of the budget proposed turning SNAP into a block grant program controlled at the state level. This move might have resulted in budget cuts, and certainly in different eligibility standards.
But [House Agriculture Committee Chair Mike] Conaway also signaled that he sees food stamps as more than just a program to provide food to hungry people. He told the agricultural journalists that he had been most impressed by the testimony of a Chicago woman who described food stamps as a “trampoline” that her family used to get off government dependency. “That is a classic example of where the program worked the way it should. There are some other stories out there that go the other direction,” Conaway said.