MADISON (WKOW) -- House Republicans will fight to defund Obamacare on Friday, but they spent Thursday passing a bill to cut the nation's food stamp program by nearly $40 billion dollars.
That could have serious implications locally if it becomes law.
The Second Harvest Food Bank supplies food to about 141,000 local residents who struggle with hunger each year. Executives there say a $40 billion cut to the nation's Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) would increase the demand for their services substantially.
"Its estimated that these cuts will double the amount of food we're gonna have to distribute to meet the needs," said Dan Stein, President of Second Harvest Food Bank.
"We know that when you count the number of children and seniors and disabled and those who are working, you're at over 92 percent of the people who get SNAP are in those categories," said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI2), who says the cuts will force 150,000 Wisconsin residents off of SNAP.
But Republicans say too many able-bodied adults without children are taking advantage of the system and the bill they passed would change that.
"A substantial amount of savings in a single bill through reform," said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma).
Stein said he would love to see a tax savings as well, but the reality for them is that it will only pull on an already strained food pantry system.
"We've been thinking long and hard about where we can get additional food and we don't know where that is," said Stein.
That increased demand would come at a time when its hard enough to get the donations to meet the current need.
"With our traditional channels it'll be very, very difficult," said Stein. "So we'll have to come up with new channels and hope that the existing ones become even more generous than they've been."
The Senate passed its own bill on the SNAP program in June which cut $4.5 billion, mostly in administrative costs.
Now the two houses will have to come to an agreement on a final amount before a deadline of Sept. 30th.
MADISON (WKOW) -- U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI-2) is warning his constituents that the House of Representatives is set to approve a bill that would cut $40 billion out of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps, over the next ten years.
Rep. Pocan's office released numbers saying that 150,000 people in Wisconsin would lose benefits and that 4,000 children would be at risk for losing free or reduced lunch at school.
But the bill's Republican backers say the measure will help reform the SNAP program in order to get the aid to those who need it most, without as much waste and abuse. It would make it much harder for "able-bodied adults" without children to get benefits.
The Democratic-led Senate passed its own bill on SNAP reform, which cuts just $4.5 million from the program, mostly in administrative expenses.
If the House passes its bill, it will have to then negotiate a compromise with the Senate.
Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will have more on the potential local impacts of this bill on 27 News at 5 and 6.
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