Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) led a group of 19 senators and 120 representatives demanding that the Department of Agriculture withdraw its rule that would kick over 3 million people off of food assistance.
The Trump Administration’s proposed rule would end the streamlined eligibility option for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for people who have already demonstrated that they qualify for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. According to the Administration’s own estimates, this proposal would strip benefits from 3.1 million people — nearly one in 10 recipients of nutrition assistance.
“Millions of families will go hungry if your administration moves forward with this policy,” the members of Congress warned. “We urge you to immediately rescind this shortsighted proposal.”
“In a nation where the three wealthiest people own more wealth than the bottom half, increasing the barriers for hungry families is unconscionable,” argued the members of Congress. The United States already experiences some of the highest youth-poverty and infant-mortality rates among advanced countries.
The lawmakers stressed the fact that more than 13 million children live in poverty and the vast majority of SNAP benefits — 84 percent — go to households with a child, senior, or person with a disability. Due to public schools’ reliance on SNAP enrollment when determining eligibility for free school meals, the Trump Administration proposal would additionally strip 500,000 children’s automatic eligibility for free school lunches, the members of Congress noted.
The legislators cite the findings of a United Nations report on extreme poverty in the United States, which concluded that “in a rich country like the United States, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power.” The Trump Administration’s proposal to strip nutrition assistance from millions of Americans demonstrates that it is “once again doubling down on that choice,” they conclude.
Sanders and Sewell previously partnered in an effort last year to draw then-Ambassador Nikki Haley’s attention to the failure of the United States to recognize social and economic rights, and the severity of hunger and deprivation outlined in the UN report, which amounted to “Third World conditions of absolute poverty” for millions of Americans.
The letter was signed by Senators Booker (D-N.J.), Harris (D-Calif.), Udall (D-N.M.), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Feinstein (D-Calif.), Warren (D-Mass.), Markey (D-Mass.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Hirono (D-Hawaii), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Wyden (D-Ore.), Merkley (D-Ore.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cardin (D-Md.), Heinrich (D-N.M.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Murphy (D-Conn.).
The letter was also signed by House Members Lee (D-Calif.), Nadler (D-N.Y.), Chu (D-Calif.), DeLauro (D-Conn.), Moore (D-Wis.), Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Cummings (D-Md.), Horsford (D-Nev.), Waters (D-Calif.), Luján (D-N.M.), Davis (D-Ill.), Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Johnson (D-Texas), Lowey (D-N.Y.), Bustos (D-Ill.), Butterfield (D-N.C.), Castro (D-Texas), Higgins (D-N.Y.), Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Schneider (D-Ill.), Kennedy (D-Mass.), Wild (D-Pa.), Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Gallego (D-Ariz.), McGovern (D-Mass.), Hill (D-Calif.), Evans (D-Pa.), Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Cohen (D-Tenn.), Pressley (D-Mass.), Johnson (D-Ga.), Cox (D-Calif.), Kuster (D-N.H.), Norton (D-DC), Tlaib (D-Mich.), Rice (D-N.Y.), Foster (D-Ill.), Van Drew (D-N.J.), Trone (D-Md.), Morelle (D-N.Y.), Payne (D-N.J.), Coleman (D-N.J.), Brown (D-Md.), Lieu (D-Calif.), Smith (D-Wash.), Luria (D-Va.), Hayes (D-Conn.), Kelly (D-Ill.), Omar (D-Minn.), Torres (D-Calif.), Garcia (D-Texas), Schrader (D-Ore.), Houlahan (D-Pa.), O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), Kaptur (D-Ohio), Titus (D-Nev.), Adams (D-N.C.), Kim (D-N.J.), Vela (D-Texas), Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Speier (D-Calif.), Green (D-Texas), García (D-Ill.), Hastings (D-Fla.), Courtney (D-Conn.), Pingree (D-Maine), Serrano (D-N.Y.), Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Fudge (D-Ohio), Shalala (D-Fla.), Pocan (D-Wis.), Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.), Cleaver (D-Mo.), Ryan (D-Ohio), Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), Connolly (D-Va.), Eshoo (D-Calif.), Bass (D-Calif.), Doyle (D-Pa.), Neal (D-Mass.), Sarbanes (D-Md.), Lofgren (D-Calif.), Panetta (D-Calif.), Clay (D-Mo.), Correa (D-Calif.), Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Rochester (D-Del.), Cooper (D-Tenn.), Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Veasey (D-Texas), Craig (D-Minn.), DelBene (D-Wash.), Khanna (D-Calif.), Trahan (D-Mass.), Rose (D-N.Y.), Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Soto (D-Fla.), Carbajal (D-Calif.), Garamendi (D-Calif.), Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Price (D-N.C.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Scott (D-Ga.), Lynch (D-Mass.), Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), Neguse (D-Colo.), Gomez (D-Calif.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), Rush (D-Ill.), Vargas (D-Calif.), Langevin (D-R.I.), Brownley (D-Calif.), Peters (D-Calif.), Meng (D-N.Y.), and Haaland (D-N.M.).
Read the letter here.