Food stamp benefits will continue in February despite shutdown: USDA

Food stamp recipients will have access to their benefits through February, despite the ongoing partial government shutdown, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Tuesday.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin Perdue70 mayors sign letter opposing Trump proposal that would restrict access to food stamps USDA eases relocation timeline as researchers flee agency The Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? MORE tweeted that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE ordered funding be allocated to ensure the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) remain afloat.

The Trump administration will work with states to allow SNAP benefits to be distributed early to recipients, Perdue announced. States will have until Jan. 20 to request and receive early SNAP benefits under a provision of the funding bill that lapsed in December, which allows programs like SNAP to request additional funding within 30 days of the bill's expiration.

“At President Trump’s direction, we have been working with the Administration on this solution. It works and is legally sound. And we want to assure states, and SNAP recipients, that the benefits for February will be provided,” Perdue said in a press release Tuesday evening.

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“Our motto here at USDA has been to ‘Do Right and Feed Everyone.’ With this solution, we’ve got the ‘Feed Everyone’ part handled. And I believe that the plan we’ve constructed takes care of the ‘Do Right’ part as well," he added.

The Trump administration announced the move following reports that the food stamp program would face a freeze at the end of January amid the partial government shutdown.

The partial shutdown entered its 18th day on Tuesday, tying the record for the second-longest shutdown in U.S. history.

Trump confirmed this week that he told Democratic congressional leaders on Friday during negotiations that he is prepared to leave the federal government shut down for months or even "years" if Congress does not pass a spending bill that includes $5 billion in funding for his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

A poll by Hill.TV-HarrisX this week found that a majority of Americans want Congress and the White House to reach a compromise to reopen the government, while some of the president's most ardent supporters want Trump to stick to his demands.