The Biden administration this week withdrew a proposal that would have tightened rules for food stamp eligibility.
The proposal, issued in 2019, sought to make the rules about who qualifies for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps, more restrictive.
Specifically, it would have done away with the so-called broad-based categorical eligibility, a policy that allows households to participate in the food stamp program because they qualify for a non-cash Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
The Trump administration argued that this “loophole” allowed Americans with higher income than the poverty rate to benefit from SNAP.
The story: The Department of Agriculture announced the decision in a statement on Wednesday. The department cited nearly 158,000 comments that raised concerns that the proposal might “potentially jeopardize food security for children, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and the elderly.”
“The Department agrees with the issues raised by many commenters and no longer believes that the limitations the proposed rule would have put on categorical eligibility are appropriate,” the USDA said. “The flexibility afforded by broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE) is critical to reducing administrative burden and simplifying the SNAP application process for both state agencies and households in need.”
Worth noting: The department highlighted that 3.1 million individuals in 1.7 million households would have lost access to food stamps if the proposal was adopted. It would have also cost “$2.3 billion in administrative expenses over the course of 5 years, USDA said.
“Further, nearly 1 million children would have lost automatic eligibility for free school meals, and 16,500 participants would have lost automatic eligibility for WIC,” the department noted.
Not a first: Earlier this year, the Biden administration ended another Trump-era rule that would have tighten guidelines on when and where states can waive limits on how long working-age adults can receive benefits. That rule would have cut food stamps for 700,000 people.
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