Beyond Photo ID for Voting, Sen. Vitter Wants Photo ID to Buy Food with Food Stamps

Monday, January 20, 2014
Sen. David Vitter

Republican efforts to make life harder for food-stamp recipients has continued in 2014, with a new plan to require these Americans to show photo identification before purchasing food with their government assistance.


The bill, introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana), mandates that anyone using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would have to produce a valid ID card at stores when making their purchases.


Vitter says the change in law is necessary to cut down on food stamp fraud.


“Using a photo ID is standard in many day-to-day transactions,” he told the media. “My bill will restore some accountability to the program so it's not ruined for people who use it appropriately.”


Vitter added that food stamp costs have doubled since 2008. But he failed to explain how much, if any, of this increased cost was due to people misusing their SNAP funds.


Alan Pyke at AlterNet wrote that SNAP fraud rates are only 1%.


Advocates for low-income Americans objected to Vitter’s plan, saying it could cut off many individuals from getting the food they need.


“Many poor people do not have photo ID's, and it costs money they do not have to get them,” Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the advocacy organization Coalition on Human Needs, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “Senator Vitter’s proposal will be especially tough on elderly and poor people who do not have the documents needed to get their photo ID, and who will struggle even to get to the necessary offices. They will wind up going without food.”


Vitter’s announcement of the bill said nothing about providing help to SNAP recipients to obtain ID cards.


The legislation follows on efforts last year by Vitter and other conservatives to reduce food-stamp aid to poor people. The GOP senator drafted an amendment to the Senate farm bill in 2013 that would bar anyone convicted of certain violent crimes from being eligible for SNAP.


In addition, House Republicans passed a version of the farm bill that would cut SNAP funding by $40 billion, impose new work requirements on food-stamp recipients, and encourage state governments to kick people out of the program.


Vitter, who admitted to breaking the law himself by paying for sex with prostitutes, made no mention of those convicted of non-violent crimes.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Requiring an ID to Eat?! The Right-Wing's Next Crazy Plot Against Low-Income Americans (by Alan Pyke, AlterNet)

Here's the Latest GOP Assault On Food Stamps: Requiring a Photo ID to Buy Food (by Erika Eichelberger, Mother Jones)

Vitter Introduced Bill to Require Photo ID for Food Stamp Purchases (Senator David Vitter)

David Vitter: The Formaldehyde Senator (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

New Woes for Senator Caught in Sex Scandal (by Joel Roberts, CBS News)


carrie 6 years ago
Yes! Photo id is a good idea because I know what goes on in this city with food stamps (SNAP) No one is making anyone pay for their benefit...this would be protecting legitimate beneficiaries.

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