The GOP-led House followed through on its plans to gut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program yesterday, passing a bill that will cut nearly $40 billion from the program over the next 10 years.
In the increasingly hypocritical debate leading up to the vote that literally seeks to take food from the poor, Jackie Speier (D-CA) pointed out the excessive food budgets two of her Republican colleagues had at their disposal during recent trips:
One member was given $127.41 a day for food on his trip to Argentina. He probably had a fair amount of steak. Another member was given $3,588 for food and lodging during a six-day trip to Russia. He probably drank a fair amount of vodka and probably even had some caviar. That particular member has 21,000 food stamp recipients in his district. One of those people on food stamps could live a year on what this congressman spent on food and lodging for six days.
Speier didn’t name names, but Jack Tapper’s crew over at CNN did some digging, reporting on The Lead blog that Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Steve King (R-IA)—who both voted for the SNAP cuts—were the two reps in question.
“The Lucas trip was paid for with private funds but it was unclear who paid for the meals—private or public funds—since the congressman claimed that the events were arranged or organized specifically with regard to congressional participation,” Tapper writes.
Where King’s lavish vodka-and-caviar budget came from remains unclear—but that didn’t stop the Des Moines Register for calling him out. The paper’s editorial board writes, “If he instead used that same amount of money to subsidize a SNAP Challenge, he could eat for 881 days. Heck, if allocated to the challenge the equivalent of the total amount spent on the trip, including transportation, he could keep himself in SNAP meals for 16 years.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the House’s cuts would cause 3.8 million people to be dropped from SNAP in 2014.
The debate has been long on such hypocrisy: The family of the Congressman who proposed splitting agriculture policy from nutrition assistance has earned a significant amount of money in crop subsidies. Another representative who has earned millions from federal farming programs said, “The role of citizens, of Christianity, of humanity, is to take care of each other, not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country.”