BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican, is sponsoring legislation that would essentially privatize the food stamp program in Louisiana.
Kennedy's bill would instruct the federal government to administer the food stamp program through local churches and food banks. Louisiana draws about $1.4 billion in federal aid for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
"I'm not going to let the state lose $1.4 billion because of a political spat," Kennedy said. "And If the governor kills the program, I'm going to move Heaven and Earth to try and get it past Congress and I'm going to enlist President Trump's help."
If the legislature cannot reach a compromise in the third special session, nearly 860,000 Louisianans could be kicked off of the food stamp program because Louisiana could not afford its contribution, which triggers the federal match.
Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) head Marketa Garner Walters said earlier this week that the food stamp program is all that's left for the department to cut. It would be the first state to eliminate the program.
"Throughout this entire budget process, the Department of Children and Family Services has been working with the federal government," said the governor's spokesperson, Richard Carbo, in a statement. "They have given no indication that they are willing or able to do what the senator is suggesting."
Carbo added the administration welcomes input from Kennedy, and said they are glad Kennedy is "finally acknowledging that there are real consequences from budget cuts that would be imposed without action from the legislature."
Kennedy says he is pushing the bill so Louisianans don't have to worry about being hungry.