The public debate over SNAP cuts and other reforms has continued in anticipation of Congress’ return after the Labor Day weekend. This week, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released a study strongly criticizing the House Nutrition Title Working Group’s proposal to cut $40 billion from SNAP over a ten-year period. The report argues that proposed work requirements would end assistance for “people who would take any job or job training opportunity offered but cannot find one” without providing them with job training or other reemployment assistance. The report also calculates that the Working Group’s proposal will cause 4 to 6 million people to lose SNAP benefits. In response, Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) spokesperson said that the House

“will consider common-sense measures, such as work requirements and job training requirements for able-bodied adults without children receiving assistance, that enjoy broad public support.”

The SNAP Working Group’s plan still has yet to be formally released.

Additionally, the Administration continues to counter arguments regarding rampant abuse of SNAP benefits and to defend its strong position on deterring SNAP fraud.  For example, this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its final rule on trafficking controls and fraud investigations as it relates to Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.  The Department also published a Request for Information in the Federal Register regarding retail stores’ eligibility to participate in SNAP.

This Week

  • Sunday, August 18: Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), who introduced a bill that would require USDA to publish a report of items purchased with SNAP benefits earlier this year, pledged to fight for SNAP reform. – article via the Daily Item
  • Monday, August 19: The CBPP released a study showing that the House Nutrition Title Working Group’s proposal would eliminate assistance to 4 to 6 million people. – full report via CBPP
  • Tuesday, August 20: The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published a Request for Information regarding food retail stores’ eligibility to participate in SNAP.  FNS seeks comments on issues such as possible criteria for healthy or “staple” foods; eligibility for stores whose primary business is not the sale of food; requirements to stock perishable items; and store types that should always be either eligible or ineligible for SNAP participation.  – full RFI via Federal Register
  • Wednesday, August 21: FNS issued a final rule on trafficking controls and fraud investigations with regard to EBT cards.  Under the rule, state agencies may now deny requests for replacement cards, if the requests are deemed excessive.  The rule also requires state agencies to make replacement cards available within two business days, if a card has been reported lost or stolen.  Additionally, the Department defines the term “trafficking” to include attempts to sell EBT cards or SNAP benefits online. The final rule takes effect on November 19, 2013.  FNS also issued an interim final rule to require state agencies to monitor EBT replacement requests and notify participants who request four (4) or more cards within a year.  The deadline for comments on the interim final rule is on or before October 21, 2013, with the rule taking effect on December 19, 2013.  – full rule via Federal Register
  • Thursday, August 22: At a town hall meeting, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) argued that the Farm Bill is the most important issue for farmers in the intermediate term.