April 13, 1995 in Nation/World

Move Afoot To Include Food Stamps In Grants

Associated Press

Some Republican governors are working with GOP members of the Senate to go beyond a House-passed bill and include food stamps in the block grants for turning federal welfare efforts over to the states.

The welfare reform bill passed by the House last month preserved the $27 billion food stamp program as the federal government’s ultimate safety net while turning over to state governments dozens of other social programs.

Welfare directors in several states with Republican governors are working with several senators to add the dismantlement of the federal food stamp program and including it in the block grants.

Early Senate supporters include GOP presidential contender Phil Gramm of Texas and freshman Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. “The more flexibility we give the states, the better,” Gramm has said.

Two state welfare directors, Gerald Miller of Michigan and Gerald Whitburn of Massachusetts, said Wednesday they are pressing the Senate to turn the food stamp program into a “food assistance block grant.”

However, they said they do not want control of the National School Lunch Program and the supplemental feeding program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC.

The House legislation sent both programs back to the states and set spending at fixed levels, igniting Democratic charges that Republicans were taking food from the mouths of hungry children.

Santorum said the media “completely misreported the school lunch issue and is primed and ready to do it again in the Senate, and we may want to avoid it.”

Whitburn said the state officials are asking the Senate to end the individual entitlement to food stamps - the government’s promise to provide a monthly benefit to anyone whose income and resources meet federal guidelines. The money would be divided among the states instead.

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