House Approves Drug Tests for SNAP Applicants

The House voted Wednesday voted to give states the power to perform drug tests on people who apply for food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The proposal was written as an amendment to North Carolina GOP Rep. Richard Hudson’s farm bill. Hudson commented:

If adopted, this amendment would join a list of good-government reforms contained in the farm bill to save taxpayer money and ensure integrity and accountability within our nutrition system. From preventing lottery winners from receiving food stamps, to closing loopholes and preventing illegal immigrants from receiving benefits, I commend the chairman and ranking member on the work done to reform the food stamps program in the farm bill.

Democrats asserted that the drug testing amendment was proposed by the GOP because the GOP is implying that people applying for food stamps use drugs. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) claimed that studies have shown SNAP recipients are not using drugs more than the general populace, that the proposal was unconstitutional, and that the proposal would humiliate SNAP users. She said, "It costs a lot of public money just to humiliate people. It'll cost $75 for one of these drug tests, and for what purpose? Just to criminalize and humiliate poor people."

She was echoed by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who said, "This is about demeaning poor people. And we've been doing this time and time again on this House floor."

But Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) answered that reforms are needed: "With a $17 trillion national debt, we must give states all the tools they need in order to make sure SNAP funding goes to the people most in need.

The amendment passed by a voice vote; there was no call from the Democrats for a recorded vote. Ohio GOP Rep. Steve Chabot’s amendment, which would require states to rescind electronically issued SNAP benefits that have lain dormant for 60 days, also passed, as well as wording from Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) that would cancel the Partnership for Nutrition Assistance Program, which was an agreement between the USDA and the Mexican government; Republicans said illegal immigrants were using it to enroll in the SNAP program.


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