WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined a group of 19 Senators and 120 U.S. Representatives to demand that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) withdraw its disastrous plan to kick an estimated 3.1 million Americans off of food assistance, including tens of thousands of New Mexicans. In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the lawmakers urged USDA to reverse course and rescind its proposal, which would raise serious barriers to food access for working families across New Mexico.
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.
“No one should go hungry in the United States of America,” the lawmakers wrote. “This plan would disproportionately punish working families who are already struggling to put food on the table and make ends meet.”
“Millions of families will go hungry if your administration moves forward with this policy. We urge you to immediately rescind this shortsighted proposal,” the lawmakers continued.
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.
They also 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.
In the addition to Udall and Heinrich, the letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
The full text of the letter is available here.