nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, up to 3.8 million people will lose food stamp benefits next year. Currently, one out of every seven Americans receive benefits.
Every Democrat in the House opposed this cut, but the measure passed by a 217-210 vote, though it appears unlikely that it has any likelihood of success in the Democratically-controlled Senate.
Congressman Matt Cartwright, who represents half of the Lehigh Valley, decried a bill "that will take the food out the mouths of nearly 4 million Americans next year." In a statement denouncing a "draconian" measure, the Scranton-based Congressman adds that this Bill will cut school lunches for over 200,000 children as well as food assistance to 170,000 veterans.
Congressman Charlie Dent, who represents the remainder of the Lehigh Valley, was undecided about this bill but voted with his party, mainly to get it to a conference committee so that a larger Farm bill can be adopted. He predicted that cuts in the final bill will be closer to $6 billion, as opposed to the $39 billion in thhe House version.
He supports a provision imposing work requirements on able-bodied adults without dependents. "I'm fine with that," he noted. He also pointed out that food assistance to children and veterans would come through other programs.
Alan Jennings, whose Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley operates the Second Harvest Food Bank, distributed a record seven million pounds of food last year. "Wwe need more support, not less," he observed. "The proposal by radicals in the House who have bullied the moderates into submission is an attack on working people whose only offense is that their skills are of little value in an increasingly complex, harsh and unforgiving marketplace."