WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration denounced a major element yesterday of the House Republicans' welfare bill, which would replace most federal food and nutrition programs with cash grants to be administered by the states.
The administration said the Republican proposal would cut at least $5.2 billion -- almost 13 percent -- from the $40.8 billion that would otherwise be spent on food assistance next year.
In a report analyzing the bill, the Agriculture Department said yesterday that the Republican proposal also would eliminate "all uniform nutrition standards" now set by the federal government for school lunches, the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and other food programs.
The programs were developed in response to evidence of malnutrition documented by the government over the last half century, and many studies suggest that they have improved the diets and nutritional status of low-income people, the report says.
The welfare changes are in the proposed Personal Responsibility Act, one of 10 bills introduced by House Republicans as part of their "Contract with America." The bill authorizes a lump sum payment of $35.6 billion from the government to the states for food assistance next year.
People who now qualify for federal programs would not necessarily be entitled to assistance under the state programs.
The Agriculture Department said 42 states would lose money under the proposed Republican formula for distributing the food assistance money. while California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Utah and Wyoming would gain.