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Senate Democrats revive 2017 bill to expand SNAP benefits 

Senate Democrats revive 2017 bill to expand SNAP benefits 
© Greg Nash

Democratic Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Harris Harris speaks with Netanyahu amid ICC probe Senate votes to take up COVID-19 relief bill Why is Joe Biden dodging the public and the press? MORE (Calif.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandABC names new deputy political director, weekend White House correspondent The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate Dems face unity test; Tanden nomination falls MORE (N.Y.) introduced a bill with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersABC names new deputy political director, weekend White House correspondent Ron Johnson forces reading of 628-page Senate coronavirus relief bill on floor GOP pulling out all the stops to delay COVID-19 package MORE (I-Vt.) Thursday that would expand Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. 

The bill, first introduced in 2017 by Rep. Alma AdamsAlma Shealey AdamsHouse Democrats call on Biden to fill Postal Service Board vacancies to pave way for ousting DeJoy Overnight Health Care: New COVID-19 cases nationally drop below 100K for first time in 2021 | CDC warns states against lifting restrictions amid threat of virus variants | Health officials warn COVID-19 eradication unlikely Black maternal health omnibus package introduced by Democratic lawmakers MORE (D-N.C.), would increase the baseline for SNAP benefits by roughly 30 percent and expand benefits to those living in U.S. territories.

On Wednesday the Department of Agriculture announced that SNAP is sending out 40 percent more benefits as people come to program for help amid an emerging recession that has expanded unemployment claims by more than 26 million in the last several weeks.

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“Before COVID-19, 38 million Americans depended on SNAP for their meals. Now, it’s even clearer that SNAP benefits are simply not generous enough to provide the help people need,” Adams said in a statement. 

More than 100 House Democrats co-sponsored Adams’s bill when she reintroduced it in 2019. The bill did not reach a vote in either 2017 or 2019. 

The bill, which includes a provision that would scale back work requirements for SNAP, comes as the Agriculture Department is reportedly looking to tighten enrollment requirements at the request of some states seeking to balance their budgets. 

On Tuesday, 22 state attorneys general asked the agency not to finalize a proposed rule that would disallow those who have already proven eligible for other social programs to skip administrative application processes for SNAP and automatically receive assistance.

"Not only must SNAP provide more benefits, but barriers to eligibility should also be limited in order to reach more families," Gillibrand said in a statement.