GOP Wants to Cut $23 Billion From Food Stamps

Spending bill offers hint at Republican Party's poverty agenda

House Speaker Paul Ryan's goal of uniting the fractious Republican Party has been stymied by months of dissent over the 2017 budget. (Douglas Graham/Roll Call file photo)

Republican leaders have proposed more than $23 billion in food stamp cuts in a budget plan that could be brought to the House floor in the next two weeks, several sources say.  

The as-yet unreleased legislation is meant to corral the votes needed to pass a 2017 budget resolution and suggests a possible approach to poverty in a much anticipated conservative agenda that party leaders plan to roll out this summer.  

The Food stamp cuts would be included in what is now a $170 billion spending cut package that would save an estimated $30 billion over two years and $170 billion over a decade, according to a summary of the bill provided to CQ/Roll Call by multiple people with knowledge of the plan.  

Republican leaders did not immediately confirm the authenticity of the summary.  

“Discussions on the budget continue,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan , R-Wis., said when asked to confirm the document.  

The proposed changes in the food stamp, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, include the end of waivers that allow some adults to receive assistance for a limited amount of time, while they are in school, or training for a job.  

Ryan's goal of uniting the fractious Republican Party has been stymied by months of dissent over the 2017 budget. House leaders have pushed for a proposal that would match last year's spending. But the powerful Freedom Caucus faction within the party has insisted on deeper cuts .   

[Related: No Budget, No Blame] But both arms of the party have indicated support for welfare reforms that would include food stamp cuts.  

Ryan has not said what will be included in the party's new poverty agenda , part of a slate of proposals set to be released before the July nominating convention. Ryan is working to provide a new conservative agenda that would be an alternative to Democratic social policies and provide a platform for the Party's candidates in November.  

[Related: Ryan Forum will Preview Poverty Agenda] Ryan has proposed deep cuts to food stamp spending in the past, including a plan to cut $1 trillion from the program over 10 years, which he authored when he was chairman of the House budget committee in 2014.  

The Republican Study Committee, the group representing the conservative caucus of House Republicans, included cuts in the food stamp program in suggestions for the party's poverty platform it submitted to party leadership in April.  

Such cuts are inspired by the belief that welfare programs encourage people to become dependent on government assistance and discourage work.  

— Paul M. Krawzak contributed to this report. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.