Reps. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) and Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) both cited the Bible last week to argue that while individual Christians have a responsibility to feed the poor, the federal government does not.
"We're all here on this committee making decisions about other people's money," Fincher said.
LaMalfa said that while it's nice for politicians to boast about how they've helped their constituents, "That's all someone else's money."
Yet both men's farms have received millions in federal assistance, according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that advocates for more conservation and fewer subsidies. LaMalfa's family rice farm has received more than $5 million in commodity subsidies since 1995, according to the group's analysis of data from the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fincher's farm has received more than $3 million in that time.
Last year alone, Fincher's farm received $70,574 and LaMalfa's got $188,570.
The federal government's complex system of farm subsidies is supposed to shield farmers from some of the uncertainties inherent to the industry, but critics like the Environmental Working Group say the safety net unfairly benefits the biggest farms at the expense of smaller ones.
Congressional agriculture committees oversee both food stamps and farm subsidies.
"Fincher's $70,000 farm subsidy haul in 2012 dwarfs the average 2012 SNAP benefit in Tennessee of $1,586.40, and it is nearly double of Tennessee's median household income.