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Trump Administration Seeks to Cut Food Stamps for 3 Million ‘Less Needy’ Americans

The Trump administration wants to make it harder for millions of Americans to get access to food stamps.

On Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture proposed new rules that would curtail automatic eligibility, affecting around 3 million Americans. 

Around 40 million people received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits last year. Currently, residents of 43 states are automatically eligible for food stamps if they already qualify for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. 

This means that those who receive benefits from TANF don’t have to be subjected to a review of their income and assets to receive food stamps. The rule is intended to address the needs of low-income families that face other costs, such as housing and child care.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called the existing rule a “loophole,” claiming that it has been “used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines.” He added that “states have misused this flexibility without restraint.”

The proposed change would only allow those who receive welfare benefits worth at least $50 a month for at least six months to automatically enroll in SNAP. Non-cash benefits that would enable automatic eligibility would be limited to subsidized employment, work supports, or childcare. Anyone earning more than 130% of the federal poverty guidelines—around $32,640 for a family of four—would not be eligible.

The USDA claims that the proposal would save the federal government as much as $2.5 billion a year by removing ‘less needy’ people from SNAP.

This is not the first time the Trump administration and Republicans have sought to limit food stamp eligibility. Last year, they proposed imposing stricter requirements to be eligible for SNAP through the Farm Bill. The bill ultimately passed without the restrictions.

The proposal will now face a 60-day public comment period before it can go into effect.