The U.S. House narrowly approved legislation Thursday that would cut nearly $40 billion from food stamps during the next 10 years.
The House voted 217-210 in favor of the bill, with 15 Republicans joining all 195 Democrats in opposing it.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, spoke twice on the House floor in support of the proposal. He has been a leading advocate of splitting nutrition programs from the farm bill, which the House did in July.
"We can save taxpayers $40 billion by eliminating loopholes, ensuring work requirements and putting food assistance on a fiscally responsible path," Stutzman said during floor debate broadcast by C-SPAN.
The legislation would require all able-bodied adults without dependents to work or be looking for work before they can receive food stamps. It also would allow states to test applicants for drug use.
"In the real world, we measure success by results," Stutzman said. "It's time for Washington to measure success by how many families are lifted out of poverty and helped back on their feet, not by how much Washington bureaucrats spend year after year."
Federal spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, has doubled in the last five years, to nearly $80 billion a year.
Various Democratic lawmakers described the Republican spending cuts as "cruel," "mean" and "draconian," and said the measure would take food out of the mouths of 3.8 million low-income Americans, including 170,000 military veterans.
The House bill "isn't going anyplace in the Senate," said Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., during the debate. "The president wouldn't sign it. So I don't know what we're doing."
A five-year farm bill approved by the Democratic Senate contains SNAP, reducing its spending by $4 billion during a 10-year period.