The Senate Agriculture Committee rejected appeals from Republican governors to convert food stamps into block grants to states Wednesday, voting instead to preserve the federal program that helps needy Americans buy groceries.
But the committee agreed to restructure the $27 billion program to give states more control over food stamps, and to shrink federal spending on nutrition assistance by $19 billion over the next five years. The average family of four could lose up to $29 a month in food stamps by 2000, critics said.
The bill was approved by a vote of 11-7, with one Democrat, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, siding with the majority Republicans.
Several Republicans, including Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas, said they preferred changing food stamps into block grants to states, ending the entitlement status of a program that serves one in 10 Americans.
Dole, however, acknowledged that block grant supporters did not have the votes to pass such a fundamental change, which was also supported by GOP governors including Michigan’s John Engler.