U.S. House opposes USDA proposal to change food stamps for Americans

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WASHINGTON, July 24 (Xinhua) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Wednesday opposing a proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) which may deprive millions of Americans of their food stamps.

“The Administration’s latest act of staggering callousness would steal food off the table of working families and hungry children, and dismantle proven pathways out of poverty for millions,” Pelosi, the Democratic congresswoman representing California, said in the statement.

She was referring to a change proposed by the USDA to the way states determine who is eligible for the benefits provided via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.

“This proposal perfectly showcases the Republicans’ cynical special interest agenda that gives billion-dollar handouts to big corporations and the wealthy few, and then steals from children, veterans, seniors and working families to make up the difference,” Pelosi said.

The USDA said in a press release Tuesday that the proposal will no longer allow states to make participants receiving minimal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits automatically eligible to participate in SNAP.

Announcing the proposal Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the “loopholes” in determining who qualifies for SNAP “has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines.”

According to a fact sheet the USDA published to accompany the announcement, 3.1 million SNAP participants will be kicked out of the program if they are not covered in their states’ “expanded categorical eligibility policies.”

Only by gaining the categorical eligibility status can recipients of TANF and other “similar means-tested programs” continue to enroll in SNAP, the fact sheet said.

“The Administration’s proposal is both cruel and counterproductive, ignoring the truth that SNAP injects demand into the economy by creating 1.79 U.S. dollars for every dollar in benefits,” Pelosi said in her statement.

Perdue wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday on Fox News’ website that the proposed fix to SNAP will save nearly 25 billion dollars over 10 years.

About 40 million low-income people received SNAP benefits in 2018, according to a report by the Washington Post.

Forty-three states routinely grant SNAP eligibility to low-income people already receiving other government benefits, without undergoing income or asset tests, the Post said.

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