Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Threatens to Veto Transfer of Food Stamps

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Threatens to Veto Transfer of Food Stamps

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton will veto welfare reform legislation that dismantles the federal food stamp program by turning it over to the states, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said Tuesday.

Glickman issued his warning in testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee, which will decide the fate of the food stamp program as it wrestles with proposals to change the way the nation feeds its poor and hungry.

The House Agriculture Committee rejected a plea by the nation's governors to abolish food stamps and turn responsibility for feeding an estimated one of every 10 Americans over to the states. The governors are now pushing the Senate to take that step.

Glickman told committee members that the president's "bottom line position" is that food stamps must not be converted into block grants. To do so would remove a critical safety net for the needy, he said.

The administration issued its veto threat as the Senate Finance Committee prepared to begin work today on a welfare reform proposal that would end the federal guarantee of assistance to poor mothers and their children and that would scale back disability payments to disabled children and alcohol and drug addicts.

The Finance Committee plan includes a proposal by Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., that would allow states to hire churches and other non-government organizations to provide services to help the poor move from welfare to work.

Ashcroft said he sought the provision because the Salvation Army and other organizations with expertise in helping the needy now sit on the sidelines because of fear that they would have to give up their religious or spiritual identities if they accept government money.

Welfare recipients who object to getting services from a religious group would have to be given the option to get the services elsewhere.

Other key provisions of the Senate legislation call for:

Turning the main cash grant program for poor mothers and children, called Aid to Families with Dependent Children, or AFDC, into a block grant to the states. …

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