CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Tuesday proposed a rule to tighten food stamp eligibility that would cut about 3.1 million people from the program, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said, drawing ire from Democratic senators and advocacy groups.
The administration has been rolling out rule changes related to the food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), after efforts to pass new restrictions on it were blocked by Congress last year.
The program provides free food to some 40 million Americans, or about 12 percent of the total U.S. population.
The USDA billed Tuesday’s move as a way to save money and help eliminate what it sees as the widespread abuse of the program. But Democrats and advocacy groups criticized it as an attack on the nation’s poorest.
“This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance,” said Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
Currently, 43 U.S. states allow residents to become eligible for food stamps automatically through SNAP, or if they receive benefits from another federal program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, according to the USDA.
The agency wants to change that by requiring people who receive TANF benefits to pass a review of their income and assets to determine whether they are also eligible for free food from SNAP, officials said.
If enacted, the rule would save the federal government about $2.5 billion a year by removing 3.1 million people from SNAP, according to the USDA.
Advocacy group First Focus on Children said 7.4% of households with children participating in SNAP would lose their access to food stamps.
“To cut money for people who need to be fed? It’s just another example of the heartlessness of this administration,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters … Read more.