House passes bill to boost food stamp spendingWASHINGTON (AP) — Spending for food stamps would rise 14 percent under legislation passed by the House Thursday, giving the program a boost as record numbers of people are using the food assistance.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Spending for food stamps would rise 14 percent under legislation passed by the House Thursday, giving the program a boost as record numbers of people are using the food assistance.
Funding for the food stamp program makes up half of a $123.8 billion House measure for agriculture and nutrition programs for the budget year beginning Oct. 1. The bill passed 266-160.
The Department of Agriculture announced this week that 33.8 million people, or one in 9 Americans, were participating in the food stamp program as of April — more than any other time in its history. That’s up 1.2 million people from two months earlier and up 5.6 million from the same time last year.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, would receive a 10 percent increase in the bill, to $7.5 billion. The added money is expected to help an additional 700,000 people.
Legislation moving through the Senate would give similar increases to domestic food programs.
The House legislation would provide increases for food and drug safety, giving the Food and Drug Administration $3 billion, a 14 percent increase. International food assistance also would get a boost, with increases for emergency humanitarian food needs and aid for poor children around the world.
The agriculture spending measure passed the House over protests from Republicans, who are irate that Democratic leaders are severely cutting back on the long-standing right of rank-and-file members to offer amendments.
The House and Senate are digging into the 12 annual appropriations bills for the agency operating budgets set by Congress each year. The House was expected to turn to a $48.8 billion measure funding foreign aid and State Department operations while the Senate continued debate on a $42.9 billion homeland security bill in hopes of passing it later on Thursday.
The Senate Appropriations Committee was also busy, with three bills — funding foreign aid, energy and water programs, and the Treasury Department and other agencies — slated for an afternoon vote.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., says he will press for a plan to ease Bush administration rules requiring upfront payment from Cuba for imports of U.S. food. Dorgan says the Treasury Department is refusing to abide by an earlier attempt passed by Congress to effectively waive the Bush rule.