Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II opposes President Trump’s proposal to change key components of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides assistance to families to help put food on the table. The Administration is now proposing to implement, through executive action, additional work requirements for some applicants and restrictions to SNAP.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II

“House Republican leaders sought to secure these same changes to SNAP as part of the farm bill. But it didn’t work. Congress just passed a revised farm bill without these damaging provisions to SNAP. Now the President wants to ignore the law passed by Congress and implement these restrictions with the swipe of a pen,” said Congressman Cleaver.

SNAP is the nation’s nutrition assistance safety net, providing billions of dollars in food benefits to people across the country.

In Missouri, in 2016, SNAP reached a little over 800,000 residents–more than 10% of the population, according to the USDA profile.

Those affected would be SNAP participants ages 18 through 49 who are not raising minor children in their homes. The people, whom the rule change would affect, are among the poorest of the poor, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data show.

Only 18 percent of SNAP recipients had gross income above the poverty line, while 40 percent had income at or below half the poverty line, according to the USDA.

A longstanding, harsh provision of SNAP law already limits these 18-through-49-year-olds to just three months of SNAP benefits (in months that they’re not employed at least 20 hours a week) out of every three years. If you can’t find a 20-hour-a-week job, you’re cut off SNAP.

Participation in a work or training program counts toward fulfilling this requirement, but states aren’t required to provide work or training slots to these individuals — and most states don’t. In addition, searching for a job does not count toward meeting the requirement.

The proposed changes also would restrict a critical provision that lets states seek waivers of this three-month cut-off in areas where jobs are scarce. From the provision’s enactment in 1996 until now, Democratic and Republican administrations alike have operated under a common set of rules in considering and granting waivers from the three-month cut-off. Now, the Trump Administration is seeking to severely restrict the ability of states to apply for a waiver — an alternative that’s certain to increase hunger and destitution.

“Most working-age adults on SNAP who can work, already do so. Unfortunately, low-paying jobs with unreliable hours and little to no benefits are all too common. We should be doing more to help these families, not throw them to the wind. These provisions will force people out of a program that was put in place to help them when they need a helping hand,” said Congressman Cleaver.

“The President should be trying to help with policies such as better job training and employment programs and a higher minimum wage instead of denying people, who are already struggling, basic food and nutritional needs,” said Congressman Cleaver.

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and also a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus.