McGovern: House GOP Budget Would Cut Hunger Program by $160 Billion, Hurt Millions of Working Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), a senior House Democrat and the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Nutrition Subcommittee, spoke on the House floor to condemn the extreme budget proposed by House Republicans which proposes $160 billion in cuts to aid for millions of families who struggle with hunger. The cuts target the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the country’s premiere anti-hunger program.

Full text of Congressman McGovern’s speech is below. Click here for video of today’s speech.

“Just weeks after President Trump released his devastating Budget which guts SNAP, our nation’s first line of defense against hunger, House Republicans have joined in that effort, proposing drastic cuts to our anti-hunger safety net in the budget they marked-up last week.

“In their Budget, House Republicans have laid out their dangerous agenda: dramatic increases in defense spending and tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires, and corporations -- all paid for by cuts to programs that help working class families and those struggling to make ends meet.

“Among the proposed cuts, House Republicans are seeking $160 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – known as SNAP – over 10 years. $150 billion of these cuts come from structural changes to SNAP and harsher work requirements and time limits, and an additional $10 billion would be fast-tracked through the reconciliation process.

“SNAP is not an ATM. It’s not money to be used for tax breaks for the wealthy, additional weapons systems, or any corporate handouts. It is intended to help our most vulnerable neighbors purchase groceries and put food on the table when times are tough. Simply put, SNAP helps people eat.

“For a meager $1.40 per person, per meal, SNAP helps alleviate poverty, reduce hunger, and improve nutrition. It is one of the most efficient and effective federal programs.

“I serve as the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition. Since 2015, the Committee has held 23 hearings on SNAP. In our hearings we’ve heard from over 80 expert witnesses – Republican and Democrat – about ways to make SNAP even better. But none of these witnesses – not one – ever suggested changes like the ones proposed by President Trump and House Republicans.

“These Republican proposals are mean-spirited, and they are just as heartless as they are reckless. They don’t reflect the realities of the program or seek to understand the challenges faced by those living in poverty. They don’t help struggling Americans find work, and they certainly don’t help to address the “benefit cliff,” as some of my Republican colleagues have proposed doing.

“If Republicans were genuinely interested in helping struggling families rise out of poverty, they would join Democrats in advocating for higher wages, more jobs, and better work supports like child care and transportation. They would address affordable housing shortages and help to improve access to health care. They would increase investments in job training and career and technical education. They would finally work with us to make college more affordable.

“But instead of working on these priorities, House Republicans are hell-bent on pursuing an agenda that belittles the struggles of the working poor and tears apart our safety-net.

“This awful budget is no exception.

“Under the guise of “state flexibility,” the budget proposes a block grant-like approach to administering SNAP.

“Make no mistake, block granting SNAP would make hunger worse in this country, plain and simple. It would undermine the successful structure of SNAP – its ability to expand as the economy struggles and contract in times of economic prosperity. The proposed structural changes would likely result in drastic funding cuts and reduced eligibility for the program.

“If state flexibility is the true goal, then my Republican friends are in luck. SNAP already has a number of options that states can adopt. What’s ironic is some of these state options are exactly the provisions House Republicans are seeking to do away with.

“The Republican budget also calls for additional work requirements in SNAP, relying on dangerous rhetoric that suggests that hardworking families who rely on modest food benefits don’t want to work or are lazy.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth.

“I’d like to point out that the majority of people on SNAP who can work, do work. Most people on SNAP are not expected to work or cannot work – they are children, senior citizens, and people who are disabled. That’s exactly who Republicans will be hurt if these dangerous proposals advance.

“If we’re talking about how we can help transition people who can work into the workforce, you don’t do that by cutting the program by billions of dollars, or by cutting people off from food aid. That does nothing to help people find jobs – it only makes them hungry.

“I urge my Republican colleagues to join me in rejecting these damaging cuts, and to support investments in our anti-hunger safety net that will help end hunger now.”