Locals react to House passing bill to cut $40 billion in food stamps

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El Paso food bank says cuts are not the answer

Saturday, September 21, 2013 - 12:32am

Republicans in Washington passed a bill that could make it more difficult for families in El Paso to put food on the table.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted to cut nearly $40 billion dollars from food stamps over the next decade.

According to the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger food bank, in El Paso, 138,000 people are eligible for food stamps, and only 68% actually receive them.

Supporters of the bill say they are only trying to cut benefits for people who are receiving food stamps when they shouldn't be.

For adults considered to be healthy, who aren't caring for any children, the bill would only make them eligible to receive three months of food stamps during any three-year period - those who work part-time or are in a job-training program would be an exception.

The House bill didn't receive a single Democratic vote, and 15 Republicans also voted against it.

El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rouke voted against the measure, while Congressman Steve Pearce from Alamogordo supported it arguing, "...the bill contains precise and effective reforms to combat fraud and abuse within the program, while ensuring that the americans who have fallen on hard times get the support they rely on."

El Pasoans Fighting Hunger argues there are many misconceptions about those receiving food stamps.

"The latest survey showed only 1.3% of all the people using it actually abuse the system. The average stay on food stamps is only 8 months, it's not a lifetime thing. You must be actively looking for work or have a job, and so, it's not just a hand-out - it's called Supplemental Nutrition Program for a reason," said John Schwarting, Executive Director of El Pasoans Fighting Hunger.

Schwarting said El Paso county leads the entire country in "suburb poverty."

President Obama said he would veto the House bill but will most likely not have to because the Democratic-controlled Senate is not expected to pass it.

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