Senator Debbie Stabenow Thursday questioned the Department of Agriculture over its categorical eligibility rule proposal for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
USDA this week published an analysis finding the rule would remove nearly one million children from automatic enrollment for free school meals, and 40,000 would no longer be eligible for free meals. During a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on farm bill implementation, Stabenow alleged that USDA “has continued to ignore what we’ve put in the farm bill,” which she says rejected changes to SNAP.
Deputy Agriculture Secretary Stephen Censky says the changes are to ensure “eligibility requirements are being enforced.” Censky cited criticism over USDA’s handling of eligibility by the Government Accountability Office, adding USDA “needs to do a better job” of making sure eligibility requirements are being enforced, and that states are not finding loopholes to increase enrollment. Stabenow says the analysis published this week by USDA, is flawed, adding “I would strongly urge you to reconsider” the proposal. USDA has reopened the comment period for the rule.