U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo,
The House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill yesterday that will trim $40 billion over the next decade from food stamp programs that Republicans hailed as a victory although President Barack Obama has already said he would veto the controversial legislation.
Before the vote was made, however, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, thrashed her GOP counterparts who supported the bill for being hypocrites.
She spent five minutes on the House floor yesterday calling out some Republican lawmakers for taking lavish trips to foreign countries and spending more in a week on wining and dining than a food stamp recipient would spend in a year.
In Speier’s District 14, there are about 4,000 people who receive food stamps but some Republican-controlled districts in poorer states have far more people dependent on the subsidy, she said yesterday on the House floor.
“Some of these same members travel to foreign countries under the guise of official business. They dine at lavish restaurants, eating steak, vodka and even caviar. They receive money to do this. That’s right, they don’t pay out of pocket for these meals,” Speier said in yesterday’s speech. “Another 20 members made a trip to Dublin, Ireland. They got $166 a day for food. These members didn’t pay a dime. They received almost $200 for a single meal only for themselves. Yet, for them, the idea of helping fellow Americans spend less than $5 a day makes their skin crawl.”
Near the end of her speech on saving food stamps from cuts, however, she made a larger point about the current state of the nation.
“I’m a member of the least productive Congress in the history of this country. I’m ashamed of that. To be honest, if the federal government shut down for a couple of weeks, as we keep hearing, would Americans even notice? When a government of the people or for the people becomes a government in spite of the people, then who are we really serving? If we refuse to take care of those who are the most vulnerable at a tiny fraction of the costs [of] our defense budget, don’t we cease to be true public servants?” she said in yesterday’s speech.
The bill would eliminate about 14 million people from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by 2023, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The legislation also tightens the rules for getting into SNAP, which has seen soaring enrollment in recent years.
More than 47 million people currently receive the subsidy, up from the more than 26 million people in 2007, according to federal data.
Speier took what is being called the SNAP challenge by living off of $4.50 a day for food to see what it is like for food stamp recipients to try to survive on the subsidy.
“I’ve taken the SNAP challenge and I can tell you it is a horrible experience. You think about food constantly. You are always hungry. But those on food stamps live on $4.50 every day, not for one week, for long into their future. That is so crushing,” she said in her speech.
The House vote was 217-210, with no Democrats voting for it.
Senate Democrats have pledged the bill will not pass out of that chamber, however.
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