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The House passed a bill on Thursday that would cut as many as 3.8 million Americans from food stamps, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The cuts would come from a combination of ending state waivers for able-bodied, unemployed adults, and from tightened eligibility requirements. Currently, experts estimate that 48 million Americans will participate in the program in 2014.
The vote was close, at 217-210, with 15 Republicans siding with every Democrat in the House against the bill. Using 2012 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we calculated how many households in each member's district received food stamp assistance last year comparing that to how they voted. Here's what we found.
Households that received food stamps, by party and vote
This data appears in the graph at right. Members who voted against the measure represented about 8.4 million households that received food stamp support in 2012. Those who voted for it represented about 7.3 million such households.
Estimated reduction in households
If you evenly apply the rate at which households would be removed from the program under this bill, Republicans voted to kick over 575,000 constituent households out of the program.
Average household count
Interestingly, the 15 Republicans who voted against the measure (largely from the Northeast) represented fewer food stamp households on average than their colleagues that voted for it.
If the cuts pass the Senate and are signed into law, the government would save $39 billion over 10 years, or twice as much as the House Agriculture Committee recommended, and much more in cuts than the Senate has previously approved, Politico explains. The current bill is a result of an earlier decision to split off the food stamp discussion from the usually bipartisan farm bill, under which it's traditionally been passed in tandem with farm subsidies, popular with Republicans. The food stamp-only current plan comes from the House Republican leadership, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor. But not all Republicans were on board with the plan, in part because their districts would be adversely affected by the cuts. The Atlantic Wire has a detailed breakdown of how the cuts would affect each representative's district.
The White House has already vowed to veto the bill, saying in a statement that "these cuts would affect a broad array of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including working families with children, senior citizens, veterans, and adults who are still looking for work." But it's doubtful that the bill will make it as-is through the Democrat-controlled Senate, where it's expected to be rejoined with the farm subsidy portion of the measure into some sort of compromise plan. The current farm bill expires on September 30. A final bill has to make it through Congress by then.
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