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Lawmakers say proposed changed to food stamp program would leave millions hungry

WASHINGTON DC (NEXSTAR) – Lawmakers say a proposed change to the food stamp program would leave millions of Americans hungry.  

On Thursday, members of Congress sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to not change his department’s eligibility rules for SNAP.  

“It will increase hunger and poverty in the United States,” said Jane Adams, a senior domestic policy analyst for Bread for the World.   

More than 40 million Americans depend on food stamp benefits, called SNAP, to feed their families, but a proposed change to the program could leave three million of them hungry.  

“We shouldn’t be punishing working families by throwing them immediately, all at once, off SNAP benefits,” Adams said.  

According to Adams, in 40 of the 50 states, if parents get a raise, their SNAP benefits decrease gradually. It allows them to save up some money while keeping food assistance.  

But under the new proposed rule, a pay raise could be devastating and they would lose all their SNAP benefits.  

“I think there’s a pressure in this administration to kind of go after welfare in any way, shape or form, but you’re supposed to be pro-work. This helps workers get a raise,” Adams said.   

Congress refused to include the new rules in last year’s farm bill, but the USDA is prepared to go forward without Congress. Lawmakers are calling the decision “disastrous.” 

Nearly 150 Republicans and Democrats sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue Thursday urging him to rescind the rule. READ the full letter here

Perdue has defended the decision, saying it would fix a loophole that allowed people who didn’t truly need the help to get the benefits. 

Some lawmakers said because of huge budget deficits, the U.S. needs to make cuts to the program to save money. 

Adams, though, said that’s wrong. 

“It’s actually going to cost a lot of money to implement,” she said.  

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the proposed rule could cost billions while the USDA says it will save the agency billions. 

The proposal is open for public comment through next month. Click here to submit a comment.