A congressman plans to introduce legislation Monday that would block terrorists from receiving food stamps.
“I am shocked that our current law does not prevent the criminals who have been convicted of plotting and carrying out acts of terrorism against innocent Americans from getting welfare benefits,” Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, said in a statement.
Poliquin’s proposed bill, called the No Welfare for Terrorists Act, would amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 and make certain convicted felons (terrorists) ineligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps.
“A federal conviction of ‘terrorism’ currently does not disqualify an individual from receiving food stamps,” Poliquin’s spokesman Brendan Conley said in a statement to The Daily Signal.
If Poliquin’s bill becomes law, violation of the U.S. code’s terrorism chapter would be added to a list of factors that disqualify a person from receiving SNAP benefits, Conley said.
Terrorism, including domestic terrorism, is defined in part by current law as “acts dangerous to human life” that violate criminal laws, “to intimidate or coerce a civilian population” and “to affect the conduct of government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”
Felons convicted of aiding terrorists also would not be able to receive the welfare benefits after serving jail time, New England Cable News reports.
“This bill makes a very important clarification in the law, closing a loophole,” Poliquin said in a statement. “It mandates that those who have been convicted of terrorist activity are no longer eligible for federal food stamps.”
“Terrorist victims and their families should never be forced to fund those who harmed them. This bill guarantees this will never happen.”
Maine Public Broadcasting Network reported that Poliquin cited an example of five accomplices to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing at a press conference Thursday in his Lewiston, Maine, office.
“Those individuals now are serving three-to-six-year prison sentences. When they leave prison they could qualify to receive food stamps,” Poliquin said. “I think this is an insult to Maine taxpayers, to American taxpayers, who may be asked to provide welfare for those who were successful in killing Americans.”
Poliquin also said the government does not track data to know if convicted terrorists have received welfare benefits.
Under current law, those convicted of crimes such as rape and murder are disqualified from receiving welfare benefits, Maine’s Bangor Daily News reports.
“I cannot imagine any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate not wanting to close this loophole,” Poliquin told Bangor Daily News. “There should be no welfare for terrorists, period.”