Washington, DC— Today, U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24), sent a letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue, urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to continue engaging with food security stakeholders to ensure individuals in Central New York and vulnerable communities nationwide are not adversely impacted by new requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition assistance Program (SNAP).
This letter comes in response to the USDA’s newly published rules regarding work requirements for able-bodies adults without dependents (ABAWDs) under the SNAP program. This new rule would limit exemptions currently utilized by 36 states, including New York, to waive time limit restrictions on SNAP benefits for ABAWDs who are unable to meet the work requirements outlined in the program.
“As it stands, the USDA’s new ruling has the potential to impact thousands of Central New Yorkers who currently rely on SNAP benefits,” said Rep. John Katko. “While Central New York has benefited greatly from pro-growth policies enacted at the federal level, I believe we must continue to provide support for those in Central New York who face economic hardship. We cannot address our region’s poverty challenges without supporting those working to make better lives for themselves and their families. For this reason, I have called on the USDA to consult with additional nutrition and food security agencies before implementing the proposed changes to SNAP. In Congress, I will continue my work to promote food security and ensure the most vulnerable in our community have access to the support programs they need.”
In his letter to Secretary Perdue, Rep. Katko highlighted the need to promote workforce participation while ensuring new SNAP regulations provide continued food security for the thousands of individuals in Central New York who rely on these benefits.
The full text of the letter is below.
January 10, 2020
The Honorable Sonny Perdue
Secretary of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Perdue,
I am writing to respectfully request that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continue engaging with food security stakeholders at the state and local levels to ensure vulnerable communities nationwide are not adversely impacted by new requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
As you know, on December 5, 2019, USDA published final rulemaking regarding work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) under the SNAP program. This rule would limit the ability of states to waive time limit restrictions on SNAP benefits for individuals within the ABAWD population who are unable to meet work requirements under the program. Currently, these waivers are used by states for areas with limited employment opportunities or in circumstances where an individual exemption is required.
While I support the goal of promoting workforce participation, the final rule proposed by USDA has the potential to significantly impact food security for many of my constituents. New York is one of 36 states and territories that currently utilize waivers from the ABAWD time limit for individuals living in areas with limited employment opportunities. All four of the counties I represent are currently covered under this waiver, ensuring SNAP access for thousands of individuals.
Although Central New York has benefitted significantly from pro-growth policies enacted at the federal level in recent years, flexibility in the administration of SNAP benefits remains essential to ensuring food security for individuals in our region who continue to face economic hardship. It is critical that the program maintains accessibility for these individuals, many of whom face unique or sustained obstacles in their efforts to seek employment. Additionally, changes to SNAP should not limit the program’s ability to respond effectively in the event of an unforeseen shock to our nation’s economy.
With this in mind, I respectfully ask that USDA engage in additional consultations with nutrition and food security agencies nationwide before allowing the proposed changes to SNAP eligibility to take effect. Promoting self-reliance and combatting hunger are not mutually exclusive goals, and further cooperation would ensure that food security is not jeopardized for Americans facing financial hardships.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter and I look forward to your response.
John M. Katko
Member of Congress, NY-24