Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) appeared on Thursday's PoliticsNation to discuss her efforts to prevent $4.5 billion in cuts to programs that feed the hungry.
She even cited the Book of Matthew, Chapter 25, arguing, "The first question Christ asks on Judgement Day is, 'Did you feed the poor?' It's unacceptable that we have Republican advocates saying it's immoral to support food stamps."
Her remarks come as a sharp rebuke to several GOP leaders who, while claiming that their faith guides their policies, also argue against sustaining welfare programs that help low-income families.
PoliticsNation host Reverend Al Sharpton chimed in, saying "I do not believe in a theocracy. I am a firm believer in my faith but I don't think we ought to use it govern," adding that the actions of the faithful should "reflect what you're quoting."
Congress is currently debating the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, a plan to save around $24 billion over the next decade, largely by reducing food aid and replacing farmers' subsidies with a crop insurance program. If the bill were to pass, the average family needing assistance would receive $90 less per month for groceries, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Gillibrand said she has "momentum" building around her effort to amend the bill so that food stamp funding remains intact. But she also acknowledged that the poor, needy and most at-risk Americans "don't have the big special interest lobby groups that give sway in the debates."
On Wednesday, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) attacked Gillibrand's amendment on the Senate floor, arguing that it would leave the treasury empty.
"Under this reasoning we ought to just increase the food stamp program ten times," he said. "Why not? We ought to just pay for your clothes, pay for your shoes, pay for your housing."
In response to Sessions' remarks, Gillibrand pointed to the work of economist Mark Zandi, who has said that helping feed the needy will stimulate the economy. Food stamp money, Zandi says, goes to grocery stores and farmers who pour the cash back into the economy.
If Sessions "doesn't understand what a return on investment is," Gillibrand said, "maybe we can take some time explaining it to him."