Attorney General Phil Weiser joins coalition demanding a halt to the federal SNAP rule that will leave thousands of Coloradans hungry during COVID-19 pandemic
April 21, 2020 (DENVER, Colo.)— Attorney General Phil Weiser today joined a coalition of 22 attorneys general and the City of New York demanding that the administration immediately suspend action on a federal rule that could cut food assistance for more than 30,000 Coloradans a month, 11,000 of whom are children and 7,300 of whom are seniors over the age of 60.
“Coloradans are showing extraordinary resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this challenging time, when so many are out of work, it is unconscionable to take away something as vital as access to food,” said Weiser. “It is thus critical that, especially amid our current health crisis, we continue to work together to protect our residents’ access to food and nutrition.”
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the coalition urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture not to finalize a proposed rule that would take Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from millions of low-income Americans. The rule also would make it harder for many Americans to qualify for food benefits and would impose significant new administrative burdens on states. The states warn that it is irresponsible to move forward with these changes during a global pandemic and deepening economic crisis in which hundreds of thousands of people are ill and millions have lost jobs.
The coalition explains that USDA must halt moving forward with the rule because if it would:
- Take food assistance away from 3.1 million people during the pandemic: These cuts would hit especially hard at a time when approximately 95% of Americans are under stay-at-home orders, millions of people are out of work.
- Impair the national response to COVID-19: People complying with stay-at-home orders need to feed themselves, whether they are still employed, searching for employment, or able to work from home. Many essential workers—grocery store clerks, warehouse workers, among others—who are keeping the country running during the public health emergency rely on food stamps.
- Impose major administrative burdens on States that are desperately fighting COVID-19: Existing regulations were intended to reduce administrative costs and burdens by allowing states to qualify families for multiple benefits programs at once. Eliminating these regulations would force states to duplicate efforts as they evaluate residents for programs that they need.
The coalition also argues that implementing the proposed rule would run counter to guidance from the White House budget office directing federal agencies to “prioritize all resources to slow the spread of COVID-19.” Implementing the proposed rule will not help slow the spread of COVID-19 and the USDA should focus on supporting families throughout this crisis instead of denying needed assistance.
Contact: Lawrence Pacheco
Director of Communications
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