The U.S. House Thursday afternoon narrow passed the GOP-supported H.R. 3102 by a 217-210 vote.  All three West Texas Republicans, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (Lubbock), Rep. Mike Conaway (Midland) & Rep. Mac Thornberry (Clarendon) voted in support of the bill.

“The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act closes loopholes in our nutrition assistance programs and prevents abuse so that we can focus on helping the families most in need,” Neugebauer said.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill will reduce government spending by $39 billion over 10 years.  Those savings are achieved through reforms to the food stamp program (presently known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), which would be the first major reforms to SNAP since welfare reform in 1996. Currently, nearly one in seven Americans is on food stamps, and the program costs American tax payers $80 billion a year.

“This bill includes reasonable, commonsense reforms to the food stamp program, which has more than doubled in cost since 2008,” Thornberry said. “It is important to have a safety net for folks who are truly in need.  But, there are millions of beneficiaries out who are taking advantage of the system and hard working families that are struggling to make ends meet shouldn’t be left with the bill,” he continued.

Congressman Neugebauer also noted that importance that H.R. 3102 provided in creating farm policy.  “My priority is passing a Farm Bill that gives our farmers and ranchers the certainty they need to help feed and clothe America.  This bill moves us towards that goal, and I’m looking forward to making progress on farm policy in the coming weeks,”  Neugebauer said.

The U.S. Senate will consider their own version of the bill, but it is unlikely anything will be passed.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack dismissed the House's attempt to rein in spending on food stamps. “Today's vote was a highly partisan step that does nothing to promote a bipartisan, comprehensive Farm Bill and stands no chance of becoming law," said Vilsack. "The harmful plan championed today by House leadership would deny critical nutrition assistance for millions of Americans, including working families with children, senior citizens, veterans, and adults who are still looking for work. The Senate has passed a bipartisan Farm Bill two years running. Now it's time for House leadership to do their part by appointing conferees as soon as possible and completing the comprehensive bill that farmers, ranchers and rural Americans deserve.”