Thursday, August 22, 2019

Mayors oppose Trump administration proposal to take 3 million people off food stamps

By Bobby Gehlen, ABC News, Aug 21, 2019, 2:17 PM ET

The U.S. Conference of Mayors on Wednesday released a bipartisan letter signed by 70 mayors opposing the Trump administration’s proposal to cut 3 million people off food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

In the letter, the mayors expressed their strong objections to the Department of Agriculture proposal, arguing it would negatively impact individuals in their communities that rely on federal assistance programs. “As Mayors, we serve as the CEOs of the nation’s cities; and remain most concerned about any proposal that will reduce improvements to the health of our residents, weaken nutrition programs, deteriorate advances to healthy food access, and spur declines in local and regional economies.” the letter said.

The mayors said the SNAP program is essential in the fight against hunger and food insecurity while also assisting to bring people out of poverty. 

The administration proposal aims to close a loophole where individuals receiving minimal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) would not be automatically enrolled in the SNAP program as well. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said closing this loophole would prevent individuals from receiving federal funding for those who don’t need it. “For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines. Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint,” Perdue said in a USDA press release. 

The proposed plan would save an average of $2.5 billion per year, according to Acting Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps. Republicans attempted to add work requirements for SNAP recipients in the 2018 Farm Bill, but after receiving backlash from Democrats, the bill did not include those provisions.

The USDA press release cites an example where a millionaire in Minnesota successfully enrolled in the SNAP program, to highlight the idea of who can be approved and why they are looking to close the loophole.