December 20, 2018

On the heels of the President signing the 2018 Farm Bill that protects the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from cuts proposed by the House, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today proposed a SNAP rule that would reverse one of Congress’ key decisions and leave thousands of Americans ineligible for SNAP.  The rule would limit states’ ability to waive time limits applied to some adults without dependents in areas with insufficient jobs, reducing access to nutrition assistance for people unable to find adequate hours of work.

The USDA maneuver not only runs counter to the new Farm Bill’s preservation of existing area waiver provisions, but it also threatens to increase hunger and nutrition-related diseases in our nation. The proposed rule is expected to be published to the Federal Register as soon as December 26, and will be subject to a 60-day public comment period. FRAC will be working with anti-hunger stakeholders and allies to mobilize opposition to the proposed rule and, overall, continue to fight to protect SNAP.

Jim Weill, FRAC President, released a statement on the rule:

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.

Visit our Legislative Action Center to stay updated on the latest news regarding the proposed rule.