Warner, Kaine urge Trump Administration to withdraw rule that would take away nutrition benefits

politics policyU.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and a bipartisan group of 43 other Senators to urge the Trump Administration to rescind a proposed rule that would take away nutrition benefits from Americans struggling to find stable employment.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Senators asked Secretary Sonny Perdue to withdraw this proposal, which would make it harder for states to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to communities experiencing economic uncertainty.  

“Congress recognizes that one-size-fits-all rules for SNAP and employment practices actually end up fitting no one,” the Senators wrote. “This proposed rule removes critical local input and flexibility. This proposal ignores the intent of Congress, would worsen hunger in this country, and would do nothing to help increase stable, long-term employment or move individuals to self-sufficiency. We urge you to immediately withdraw this proposed rule.”

This proposed regulation, which could result in the loss of more than 178,000 jobs, comes in direct contravention of Congressional intent. In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress chose to reject similar proposals by the President and some members of Congress that would have changed SNAP work rules and the ability of states to waive work requirements. In fact, an amendment to further restrict states from providing geographic waivers for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) was rejected by the House of Representatives by a vote of 83-330.  A similar amendment proposed in the Senate was rejected (tabled) by a bipartisan vote of 68-30.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long stressed the importance of sustained funding for the SNAP program. In January, both Senators wrote to the Secretary of Agriculture to voice concern about the status of SNAP amidst the government shutdown. Additionally, Sen. Warner reintroduced a bill earlier this month to benefit low-income rural and urban communities with limited or no access to nutritious food by increasing access to grocery stores in areas designated as “food deserts.”

In addition to Sens. Warner, Kaine, Stabenow, and Murkowski, the letter was signed by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Robert Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Angus King (ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick  Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV),  Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jackie Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

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