Statement attributed to James D. Weill, president, Food Research & Action Center
WASHINGTON, December 20, 2018 — The Trump Administration today proposed a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rule that would diminish food assistance for unemployed and underemployed people in areas with insufficient jobs; undo long-settled regulations; cynically attempt to end run Congress; and increase hunger and nutrition-related diseases.
In 1996 when Congress enacted time limits on SNAP (then called food stamps) for certain adults who were unable to document sufficient hours of work each month, Congress provided that states could request from USDA waivers on the time limits for areas with 10 percent or higher unemployment and for areas with few jobs. The area waivers are important, albeit insufficient, safety valves for protecting food assistance for persons who are seeking but unable to find sufficient hours of work. In the decades since, USDA has abided by the decision of Congress and processed area waiver requests from governors of both political parties based on accepted economic factors and metrics.
The Administration now proposes to politicize the process at the state level, reduce the ability of states to follow Congress’ intent, and arbitrarily narrow states’ ability to waive the time limit in areas with insufficient jobs. Its action flies in the face of congressional intent, coming just days after Congress passed a new Farm Bill that left the current area waiver provisions in place. The Administration’s release of its proposed rule sends struggling people a cruel message this holiday season — not one of hope and goodwill, but one of greater hunger and hardship if the rule is adopted.
The Food Research & Action Center is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States.