One was similar to an amendment Sessions proposed that would save nearly $1 billion a year by stopping the practice of 14 states and the District of Columbia providing people with as little as $1 a year in home heating assistance — even if they don't have a heating bill — so they can automatically qualify them for greater food stamp benefits of up to $100 a month.
Another $1.1 billion a year, he says, could be saved by assuring that recipients don't have assets exceeding federal eligibility limits.
The Congressional Research Service says 40 states plus Guam and the Virgin Islands use what is called "broad-based categorical eligibility" to let people who exceed federal asset limits on eligibility collect food stamps if they're getting some other federal benefit, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
This year, for example, households with liquid assets above $2,000 could not qualify for food stamps. The limit is $3,250 if the household includes an elderly or disabled person. The value of a home, retirement and education savings and up to $4,650 of the fair market value of a household's motor vehicles are excluded from the assets test.
Sessions also would end a program of bonus payments for states that increase registration for food stamp benefits and require the government to verify that recipients are in the country legally.
The House is waiting to see what the Senate will do on the farm bill before acting, but Republicans there already have made it clear that food stamps are fair game as lawmakers look for ways to cut government deficits.
The House Republican budget introduced earlier this year would reduce food stamp spending by an average $13.3 billion a year over the coming decade and turn the program into block grants for the states. And in May, the House Agriculture Committee approved an average $3.3 billion annual cut in food stamp benefits as part of a GOP proposal to avert automatic cuts in defense spending to go into effect next year. Both those proposals are going nowhere in the Senate.
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