House Republicans should act to block states from avoiding $8.6 billion in food-stamp cuts lawmakers enacted last month, House Speaker John Boehner said.
“Since the passage of the farm bill, states have found ways to cheat, once again, on signing up people for food stamps,” Boehner told reporters today in Washington. “And so I would hope that the House would act to try to stop this cheating and this fraud from continuing.”
At least six states including New York and Pennsylvania are triggering extra federal nutrition spending by adding money to a home-heating subsidy tied to increased U.S. food-stamp aid. The guidelines are included in a revamp of agriculture policy enacted last month.
The other states include Connecticut, Oregon, Montana and Rhode Island. More states are considering the approach, thwarting deficit-conscious lawmakers in Congress who thought that setting a higher threshold for food stamps would reduce spending on the benefits.
Federal spending on food stamps -- formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP -- has more than doubled in the past five years, with most of the money spent at retailers including Supervalu Inc. (SVU) and Kroger Co. (KR) The program cost a record $79.9 billion in fiscal 2013, almost one-eighth of the roughly $650 billion a year Americans spend on groceries.