Comer Supports Food Stamp Eligibility Proposal Amid Democratic Opposition
Congressman James Comer at a federal hearing Wednesday spoke in support of a proposal to change who is eligible to receive food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. This is amid strong opposition by Congressional Democrats and anti-hunger advocates in Kentucky and West Virginia, who say the proposal could take away food from families and children in need.
The United States Department of Agriculture proposal would change a rule known as “broad-based categorical eligibility”. The rule allows families in need whose income isn’t low enough to qualify for food stamps to qualify automatically in other ways. For example, families can if they receive assistance from other federal programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. In several states including Kentucky, families can receive a resource guide or brochure regarding TANF and be automatically eligible for SNAP benefits.
USDA Deputy Under Secretary of Food and Nutrition Brandon Lipps testified before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, where Comer is the ranking minority member, to speak to an analysis of the proposal that says about 500,000 children could lose automatic free school lunches under the proposal.
Comer and other Republicans claim the rule is being abused, pointing to a case where a wealthy Minnesota man allegedly was able to qualify for SNAP.
“I’m sure we’ve heard by now the story of a millionaire living in Minnesota who was able to successfully enroll in the program. While this is likely not common, it’s emblematic of a larger problem in these programs,” Comer said at the hearing. “The benefits offered to those in need should actually reach those in need. We have a responsibility to diligently and responsibly allocate taxpayer dollars.”
The United States Department of Agriculture proposed the change over the summer in an effort they say is to “close a loophole” in the program, and estimates about 3 million people would lose food stamp benefits. The Ohio Valley Resource previously reported that regional food bank directors believe the proposal could hurt "poor, working families".
Ohio Democractic Congresswoman Maria Fudge strongly rebuked the USDA’s and Congressional Republicans’ argument, saying the focus of SNAP should be taking care of “people in this country who are hungry.”
“As I continue to hear this broken record about finding one person that scammed the system -- I am so sick of it, Fudge said. “Because one person scammed the system, we’re supposed to punish hungry kids? That absolutely makes no sense to me. It is just ridiculous.”