Senate Democrats revive 2017 bill to expand SNAP benefits
Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) introduced a bill with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Thursday that would expand Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
The bill, first introduced in 2017 by Rep. Alma Adams (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.
“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.