This vote was on an amendment that would have cut funding from a federal program that helps low-income Americans buy groceries, redirecting the money to food banks instead.
Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) offered the amendment during consideration of legislation that authorizes federal programs to assist farmers and low-income Americans. Sen. Boozman’s amendment would have cut funding used to encourage states to improve the way they distribute benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as “food stamps.” The funding would have been redirected to a program that helps stock food banks.
Sen. Boozman argued that states should not need incentive payments to make their SNAP programs more effective and efficient. The money spent on those payments would be better used by cash-strapped food banks around the country, he said.
“I am sure my colleagues are aware of the difficult situation in our food banks right now. They are under immense pressure in these very difficult economic times,” Sen. Boozman said. “This amendment takes money currently used to encourage the states to do something that they ought to be doing anyway and reinvests in a program that actually provides food to Americans who need it the most.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who opposed the amendment, argued that although food banks are a worthy cause, their funding should not be increased at the expense of efforts to cut back on waste and fraud in the SNAP program.
“I couldn't agree more about the needs of food banks. That is why in this legislation we increase food bank funding by $174 million. The problem is the way the senator wants to do this, which is by reducing the funding available to stop food stamp fraud efforts,” Sen. Stabenow said. “I certainly support what he is trying to do but not by taking money away from waste, fraud, and abuse efforts within the food assistance program.”
Sen. Boozman’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 35-63. Voting “yea” were 32 Republicans and 3 Democrats. Voting “nay” were 50 Democrats and 13 Republicans. One Republican voted “present.” As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to cut funding from a federal program that helps low-income Americans buy groceries and instead redirect the money to food banks.