The US Senate has overwhelmingly rejected a bid to preserve some $4.5 billion in food stamps funding, as part of the massive farm bill.
The request to keep that spending in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, had been offered by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y). But her plea went down 33 to 66. Sixty votes were needed to pass.
Gillibrand had warned that reduction in the SNAP would result in half-a-million US households losing an average $90 in monthly food benefits.
She had also hoped to prevent food aid cuts in the $969-billion bill by trimming the guaranteed profit for crop insurance companies from 14 to 12 percent and by lowering payments for crop insurers from $1.3 billion to $825 million.
"We all here in this chamber take the ability to feed our children for granted. That is not the case for too many families in America," Gillibrand said just before the vote.
"Put yourselves for just a moment in their shoes. Imagine being a parent who cannot feed your children the food they need to grow. It's beneath this body to cut food assistance for those who are struggling the most among us," she pointed out.
"Half of the food stamp beneficiaries are children, 17 percent are seniors, and unfortunately now 1.5 million households are veteran households that are receiving food stamps," Gillibrand highlighted.
The US Senate move to block the bid to restore $4.5 billion for food stamp comes as Congress has grown increasingly concerned about spending for the food stamp program.
Some 26 million Americans reportedly received the aid in 2007, while more than 44 million received it last year at a cost of $76 billion.
Food stamp rolls have doubled over the last eight years to 46 million people, driven by the recession.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated recently that the demand for food stamps will continue to grow through 2014 in the wake of the US economic downturn.