A proposal by a Maine Republican congressman would disqualify anyone with a felony conviction for trafficking drugs from receiving food stamps forever,

“This will help make sure limited welfare benefits are saved to compassionately help moms and dads put food on the table for hungry kids,” U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said on the House floor as he reintroduced a bill that went nowhere last year.

The congressman called it “a Maine commonsense solution to a national problem.”

Poliquin’s Food Stamp Integrity Act, which has no cosponsors, is before the House Agriculture Committee.

The measure would make it harder to replace missing electronic benefit transfer cards and ban those who have been found guilty of defrauding the government from participating in the food program.

Poliquin, who has represented Maine’s 2nd District for two terms, initially proposed the measure last summer at a press conference in Lewiston’s Kennedy Park. It followed a 2015 Sun Journal investigation that found people have traded EBT cards for drugs in the past.

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“Law enforcement officials in Maine have found” EBT cards at drug busts for years, Poliquin told House colleagues.

“Every month, these EBT cards are replenished with food stamps and other welfare benefits intended to help disadvantaged families,” the congressman said. “But too often these valuable cards are used to buy drugs.”

“This has got to stop,” Poliquin said.

The bill submitted by Poliquin would also require able-bodied adults between 18 and 50 who don’t have dependents to work at least 20 hours per week, get job training, or perform community service “in order for taxpayers to help them out with food assistance.”

Poliquin said that “similar reforms in Maine have helped lift thousands out of poverty and into independence and better lives through employment. We have plenty of jobs available.”

“My bill will help save precious welfare dollars for the disabled, elderly, sick, and the poor. It will also help stop deadly drug trafficking and treat taxpayers better,” he said.

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U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin
AP

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