Kudos to Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, for voting his conscience on July 11 and opposing the farm bill in the House of Representatives. That bill, which all other New Jersey Republicans supported as they voted with their party, did not include food aid for needy children and seniors as it historically has.
It is unclear what will happen to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, which was omitted from the GOP's farm bill, which no Democrats voted for. But the outlook is bleak. Over the past year, House majority leaders have tried more than once to weaken SNAP, including an unsuccessful effort last month to ax more than $20 billion, a cut that would have hurt 4 million people. The Senate has passed its own, smaller, cuts to SNAP, and the two houses are far apart on the issue.
As LoBiondo knows, people in New Jersey can't afford a reduction in the program. More than 873,000 people in the state rely on SNAP to help put food on the table as the state continues to suffer the effects of the recession. The unemployment rate is a high 8.7 percent. SNAP reaches those who suddenly need help affording food, including after disasters like Hurricane Sandy. Now is not the time to cut this program; its costs will drop naturally as the economy improves and fewer people need assistance.
Hopefully other Republicans will join LoBiondo in understanding that this program, which is set to expire on Sept. 30, is a vital lifeline for so many, and they will vote to reauthorize SNAP without cuts that will hurt needy New Jerseyans.
New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition