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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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September 19th, 2013
05:36 PM ET

Congresswoman outs GOP, saying they slash food stamps while dining out

By CNN's Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Thursday voted 217-210 to push $40 billion in cuts over 10 years to the federal food stamps program.

Republicans argue the price of the program, which cost $78 billion last year, has ballooned, and that cutting food stamps will encourage poor Americans to become more self-sufficient.

On Thursday, Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California lambasted those Republican colleagues who want to cut food aid for the poor, while they themselves rack up pricey meals during travel to foreign countries.

"One member was given $127.41 a day for food on his trip to Argentina. He probably had a fair amount of steak. Another member was given $3,588 for food and lodging during a six-day trip to Russia. He probably drank a fair amount of vodka and probably even had some caviar. That particular member has 21,000 food stamp recipients in his district. One of those people on food stamps could live a year on what this congressman spent on food and lodging for six days," Speier said on the House floor.

Decorum prevented Speier from naming names, but CNN's The Lead is restrained by no such protocol. CNN researched the public records and discovered that the gourmands in question are Republicans Steve King of Iowa and Frank Lucas of Oklahoma.

Lucas received $127.41 per day for a November trip to Buenos Aires, according to disclosure forms filed with the Clerk of the House.

According to the Des Moines Register, King received $3,588 on lodging and meals during a trip to Russia earlier this year.

King had no comment, and as of now, CNN has not heard from Lucas.

The Lucas trip was paid for with private funds but it was unclear who paid for the meals – private or public funds – since the congressman claimed that the events were arranged or organized specifically with regard to congressional participation.

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