Rep. Pressley and Massachusetts Lawmakers Condemn Changes to SNAP Eligibility

August 8, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue condemning his department’s proposed rule to modify categorical eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The proposed rule would threaten the SNAP benefits of an estimated 90,000 people in Massachusetts, where nearly one in nine Bay Staters rely on SNAP to put food on the table and feed their families.

“This distressing action will have significant, harmful impacts on hungry families and children across the country, including in Massachusetts,” wrote the lawmakers. “The Trump Administration has circulated multiple conflicting estimates of the number of children who would lose access to free or reduced meals during the school day, which only underscores our concern that the full extent of negative impacts resulting from this rule are unknown even to those proposing it.”

Earlier this year, Congresswoman Pressley secured funding for the Farm to School Program, which supports school districts in improving access to fresh and locally sourced foods in local schools.

The full text of the letter is below and can be found here.

 

Dear Secretary Perdue,

On behalf of the millions of Massachusetts residents that we represent, we are writing in strong opposition to the proposed rule to modify categorical eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This regulation directly violates congressional intent and would harm our constituents.

The Trump administration’s proposed rule will increase hunger and hardship for an estimated 90,000 people who live in our home state of Massachusetts, where one in nine residents currently rely on SNAP to put food on the table.

In Massachusetts, we know that more than 56 percent of SNAP households are families with children, and almost 49 percent of SNAP households are families who have an elderly or disabled household member. The Trump Administration’s own regulatory impact statement finds that “there is a potential for civil rights impacts to result if the proposed action is implemented because more elderly individuals may not otherwise meet the SNAP eligibility requirements”. As members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, we refuse to stand idly by while the Trump Administration proposes a rule that will have civil rights implications for nearly 49 percent of SNAP households in our state.

Congress rejected this very proposal, on a bipartisan basis, in the 2018 Farm Bill. Overriding the law without congressional authorization defies the clear, recently-expressed intention of the U.S. Congress. This distressing action will have significant, harmful impacts on hungry families and children across the country, including in Massachusetts. The Trump Administration has circulated multiple conflicting estimates of the number of children who would lose access to free or reduced meals during the school day, which only underscores our concern that the full extent of negative impacts resulting from this rule are unknown even to those proposing it.

The purpose of implementing this broad-based categorical eligibility is to reduce the burden on low-income households by not repeating eligibility verification tests, and to increase efficiency and further streamline state and local government administrative efforts. Implementing this proposed rule will increase hardship for low-income households, and will waste state and local resources on duplicative eligibility determinations.

We strongly urge the Trump administration to rescind this proposed rule.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ayanna Pressley

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

 

Elizabeth Warren

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

 

Edward Markey

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

 

Richard Neal

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

 

James P. McGovern

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

 

Joseph Kennedy III

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

 

William Keating

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

 

Lori Trahan

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

 

Katherine Clark

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

 

Stephen Lynch

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

 

 

 

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