The White House has threatened to veto the bill aimed at cutting food stamp benefit
The bill would save $39bn (£24bn) over a decade, but affect four million people on the program.
It comes a day after census data showed 15% of Americans live in poverty. An estimated one in seven Americans - most of them children, elderly or disabled - receive food stamps.
The bill aims to cut $4bn a year, representing about 5% of the current program. The budget savings would be achieved by allowing states to use work requirements for recipients and test applicants for drugs. It would also end waivers to allow able-bodied adults without dependents to receive food stamps indefinitely.
According to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Snap), the food program bill has tripled since 2004 and cost about $78bn last year. The White House said in a statement the bill would damage "one of our nation's strongest defences against hunger and poverty".
The Congressional Budget Office says that if the bill were enacted, up to 3.8 million people could lose their benefits next year. But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who led the legislative push, said it was "wrong for working, middle-class people to pay" for abuse of the program.
Every Democrat voting on Thursday opposed the bill. Fifteen Republicans voted against the measure.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called it a "full assault on the health and economic security of millions of families". Another Democratic congressman, Texas Representative Lloyd Doggett, called it the "let them starve" bill. ( Exactly what I was thinking Mr Doggett.)
The measure is likely to go nowhere in the Senate - Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow labelled it "a monumental waste of time". A bill passed in the Senate in June cut food stamps by $400m a year, one tenth of the House cuts.
The two chambers will have to negotiate the differences between the plans before any cuts come into effect but why cut the program at all ladies and gentlemen? You are taking austerity too far when you take the food out of hungry people's mouths. People at or below the poverty line did not cause your budget deficits or your national debt. It was the folks at the opposite end of the financial spectrum. Ask them to give up a few cocktails and dinners at the country club. The chasm between the rich and the poor in North America is ridiculously huge and shameful and the excessively wealthy are not penalized in the least for the economic disaster that befell the world a few years ago, even though they were a major part of the cause. Take a good look at the people you are compelling to pay for it. They don't have enough to eat already.