Reid Loves Grocery Shopping, Doesn’t Love Food Aid Cuts

Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Packages of ground beef at a supermarket in Princeton, Illinois.

Harry Reid has some beef with a Republican House bill that could push millions of people off U.S. food aid programs.

The Senate Majority Leader lamented the price of hamburgers in his opening remarks on the Senate floor to illustrate the difficulties food aid recipients would face if Republicans cut federal nutrition programs by $40 billion over 10 years as planned.

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, prefaced his argument with one of his qualifications on the subject: He loves to grocery shop.

“One of my favorite things I really like to do in Nevada and here in Washington is go grocery shopping,” said Reid, who lives at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington’s West End. “It’s such a diversion for me. I love going grocery shopping.”

Reid said in his experience, grocery stores stock a variety of hamburgers, ranging from the “expensive kind” to the “not-so-expensive kind” to the “cheaper kind.”

“Even the cheaper kind, you couldn’t buy a pound of that most of the time” for less than $4, Reid said.

“You certainly couldn’t buy both hamburger and milk on the same day” using food stamps, he said.

House Republicans are “snatching food out of the hands” of the poorest children and their families in the name of austerity, he said.

“It’s possible to make the important reforms to both farm and food stamp programs without balancing the budget on the back of people who are hungry,” Reid said.

Backers of the bill say they want to curb waste and abuse, Bloomberg’s Derek Wallbank reported. Republicans have said the measure would cut spending by tightening eligibility requirements including on able-bodied adults younger than 55 who don’t have dependents.

Private organizations that provide free meals say it would send many more hungry people to their doors. The proposed reduction would remove 76 million meals a year from New York City alone.

Kathleen Hunter and Sam Kussin-Shoptaw contributed to this report. 

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