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House passes deep food-stamp cuts; state delegation votes along party lines

WASHINGTON — The bill would leave 32,000 Minnesotans without benefits, but Democrats in the Senate say it’s not going anywhere.

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A Republican leadership FAQ about the bill said: “The House bill will require states to follow the 1996 welfare reform law’s restriction on eligibility for this group unless these beneficiaries obtain employment, participate in job training activities, or perform voluntary community service activities in exchange for their benefits.”

“I think the approach is the right approach,” Republican Rep. John Kline said. “It is setting the criterion for who qualifies and it is using the same sort of criterion we’ve used before in welfare reform that says, if you’re an able-bodied person and you don’t have children, you should be required to work or get training for work, and I think that’s a reasonable approach.”

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Democrats slammed the plan every step of the way, at one point parading to the podium during floor debate to show pictures of citizens in their districts hit by the cut. Democratic congressional candidates and liberal campaign groups seized on the vote as well: Mike Obermueller, the lead challenger in Kline’s 2nd District, called him “completely unwilling to stand up to the extremists in his party” after the vote.

“The SNAP cuts are going to be zero if we don’t do the bill. The default position is no cuts,” Peterson said. “What they’re trying to do here is, more likely than not, going to come up with zero cuts to food stamps, and how does that get them any place?”