Senate and Trump administration negotiators agreed on a $15.5 billion increase in SNAP funding on Wednesday to pay for growing enrollment due to the coronavirus pandemic, but they rejected a request by anti-hunger groups for higher benefits. The relief package includes $8.8 billion for child nutrition and $450 million for the government to buy and donate food to food banks. (No paywall)
Just as lawmakers temporarily increased food stamp benefits during the Great Recession of 2008-09, Congress should boost benefits to help poor families cope with the economic downturn that is accompanying efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on Thursday. (No paywall)
The Senate is expected to vote this week on the House-passed Covid-19 relief bill that suspends work and job-training requirement for SNAP recipients, a step that could preserve benefits for hundreds of thousands of people. "I believe the vast majority of Senators in both parties will agree we should act swiftly to secure relief for American workers, families, and small businesses," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the weekend.(No paywall)
Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, a conservative Democrat in a Republican-leaning district, announced he would seek re-election in November, saying he was worried rural America is being left behind. President Trump has endorsed a Republican challenger against Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, in a contest that is regarded as a toss-up.
The administration is motivated by conservative ideology, not facts, with its proposal to toughen the 90-day limit on food stamps for able-bodied adults, said the chair of a House Agriculture subcommittee on Wednesday, vowing “to do everything I can to stop this rule.”
The Trump administration’s proposal for stricter enforcement of the 90-day limit on food stamps for able-bodied adults would most often hit people living alone in deep poverty, said an analysis by Mathematica Policy Research. More than 1 million people would be affected by the regulation, the report said.
Questioned for the second day in a row on Capitol Hill, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he has the authority to tighten food stamp rules for able-bodied adults even if lawmakers don’t like it. Senate Democrats pushed back, urging Perdue on Thursday to withdraw the proposal.
The Trump administration will shift able-bodied Americans into better-paying jobs through stricter enforcement of a 90-day limit on food stamps, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told skeptical House lawmakers on Wednesday. Democrats threatened litigation to stop the proposal, which could end SNAP benefits to more than 700,000 people.
In budget proposals in 2017 and 2018, President Trump tried to slash funding for SNAP by about $200 billion over 10 years — roughly one-fourth of its total funding. Now, with Trump close to unveiling his fiscal 2020 budget package, the “hunger community” is concerned about a renewed call for massive cuts.
When Democrats take control of the House today, one of their first steps will be the adoption of operating rules for the coming two years, including a provision that could lead to a court challenge to stricter time limits for SNAP benefits.
At the same time President Trump signed into law the 2018 farm bill, which modestly strengthens the farm safety net, loosens farm subsidy rules, and legalizes industrial hemp, he announced “immediate action on welfare reform” on Thursday through stricter enforcement of time limits on food stamps to able-bodied adults.
On Thursday, hours before President Trump was expected to sign the farm bill, the administration has proposed restricting the power of states to waive the usual 90-day limit on food stamps for able-bodied adults who do not work at least 20 hours a week.
The 2018 farm bill, which President Trump could sign into law as early as next week, is more than two months overdue, largely because of a fight over SNAP work requirements that led Rep. Collin Peterson to say, “I don’t know if we’re ever going to get another one done.” The past decade has provided ample reason for doubt.
United in a bipartisan embrace, the House sent the status-quo 2018 farm bill to President Trump after a landslide 369-47 vote on Wednesday, with only a few Republicans openly lamenting that the bill will not impose stricter work requirements for SNAP recipients.
While some analysts expressed skepticism about passage of the farm bill, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell discussed the bill among must-do legislation on Thursday for action in the brief congressional post-election session.
Congress is nearly a quarter of the way through its post-election session with no apparent compromise on SNAP work rules or other disputes in the farm bill. Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that the farm bill is one of two items that “absolutely have to be accomplished” by year’s end.
Banking on Republican gains in the midterm elections, President Trump said Congress could wait until next year to pass the farm bill because "we don't have enough votes" now for stricter work requirements for millions of SNAP recipients. Trump, who signed an executive order in April calling for new and stronger work requirements for social programs, has sided with House Republicans on the major dispute of the 2018 farm bill, now nearly a month overdue.
The Trump administration’s budget-cutting plans for next year may well include a test, or even a full-scale revival, of “America’s Harvest Box,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.