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September 19, 2019

Md Federal delegation urges USDA to reconsider SNAP benefit changes

Credit: The Southern Maryland Chronicle

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05), Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, and Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin, and David Trone (all D-MD) wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue urging him to reconsider a recently proposed change to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that would hurt Maryland families. Under the proposed rule, an estimated 50,000 Marylanders could lose their SNAP benefits.

The Members write, “We write to express our concern regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent proposed rule regarding broad-based categorical eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and its impact on the State of Maryland. As you know, Maryland is one of more than 40 states currently using categorical eligibility. Categorical eligibility provides states with the flexibility to use less restrictive income and asset tests in SNAP, which allows them to better support low-income working families and improve state administration while lowering administrative costs. We are alarmed that an estimated 50,000 Marylanders could stand to lose SNAP benefits if this rule is implemented.”

They continue, “The current categorical eligibility option has been thoroughly vetted for more than two decades, and past iterations of the policies included in this proposed rule have been rejected by Congress – most recently in the 2018 Farm Bill. This proposed rule is a clear attempt to circumvent Congressional intent through the regulatory process. Additionally, as your own Department’s estimates make clear, the proposed rule will increase government administrative costs by over $2.3 billion.”

The Members close the letter, stating, “Unfortunately, it is Maryland’s most vulnerable residents, including children, seniors, and people with disabilities, who would suffer the painful consequences of unnecessary and preventable hunger. On behalf of our constituents, we strongly urge you to rescind this proposed rule.”

“On behalf of thousands of Marylanders experiencing poverty, I want to thank the Members of the Maryland Congressional Delegation for their support for thoughtful and efficient policymaking. Not only is the proposed rule an attempt to get around Congress, but it will also force tens of thousands of Marylanders into a more bureaucratic process, cost the state more time and money, and thousands of our neighbors will be delayed and possibly denied benefits. Categorical eligibility is an efficient, effective way to make sure we use government resources for those who are eligible. This change is unnecessary. We need to keep moving forward and making sure that we provide food and nutrition assistance for folks who are seniors, for the kids in school, and for families all across the state,” said Michael J. Wilson, Director of Maryland Hunger Solutions.

The full text of the letter is available here.