Biden budget would hike funding for food stamps that Trump kept trying to slash

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Biden is proposing a $1 billion increase in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, from which Trump repeatedly tried to slash funds.

President Joe Biden's proposed budget, released Friday, would include a sharp increase in funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits — a notable contrast with Donald Trump, who repeatedly faced tried to slash funding for food stamps for Americans with low incomes.

On Friday, Biden announced his $1.5 trillion budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, which features a 16% uptick in non-defense spending, with a significant emphasis on funding for social and domestic programs.

Biden's proposal includes $27.8 billion allocated to the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the SNAP program — a 16% ($3.8 billion) increase from the preceding fiscal year. Of this, $6.7 billion would go toward SNAP, a $1 billion increase from the year before.

Proposed Department of Agriculture funding would also go toward other initiatives, including repairing water infrastructure and expanding broadband access in rural areas.

Trump, on the other hand, repeatedly attempted to slash funding for food stamps and other nutritional assistance during his time in office. For 2021, he proposed to cut SNAP by almost 30% — or $180 billion — over a 10-year period of time. His budget proposal also attempted to resurrect a previously rejected "Harvest Box" program that would provide the nutritional benefits as food shipments in lieu of cash payments, and he wanted to strip millions of Americans of SNAP benefits if they weren't working more than 20 hours a week.

He was slammed by congressional Democrats, who fought against his budget proposal, which increased funding for the military while decreasing funding for critical social programs including SNAP.

Pelosi said in a statement that Trump's 2021 budget outline demonstrated "how little he values the good health, financial security and well-being of hard-working American families."

She then added, "Year after year, President Trump's budgets have sought to inflict devastating cuts to critical lifelines that millions of Americans rely on."

In 2020, Trump also proposed cutting SNAP funding by 15%, or $17.4 billion, and again attempted to restrict those working less than 20 hours a week from accessing the benefits. Congressional Democrats staunchly pushed back against Trump's 2020 budget proposal for cutting funds from critical programs.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) said, "President Trump added nearly $2 trillion to our deficits with tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations, and now it appears his budget asks the American people to pay the price. With severe cuts to essential programs and services that would leave our nation less safe and secure, the Trump budget is as dangerous as it is predictable."

House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson, a Democrat from Minnesota, wrote in a public statement in March 2019 about Trump's efforts to slash funding for hunger relief, "This proposal tells us one of two things: either the White House doesn’t understand why these programs are important, or they don’t care."

Trump made other efforts to strip SNAP funding from low-income Americans while in office, such as raising the bar for income eligibility for SNAP benefits, which would have made some three million Americans lose access to food stamps and, according to the Department of Agriculture's own analysis, would have bumped 982,000 American children from access to free and reduced school lunch programs.

Within days, the administration had received nearly 130,000 public comments on the proposal, nearly all of them strongly opposing the cuts.

Later, the Department of Agriculture under Trump fought a lengthy legal battle when the agency made a rule change intended to take effect in April 2020, which would have required all childless, healthy adults to work a minimum of 20 hours a week if they wanted to keep receiving SNAP benefits.

A federal judge ruled in October that such a rule change, which would have stripped SNAP benefits from some 700,000 unemployed Americans, was "arbitrary and capricious," particularly during a global pandemic, and wrote that the litigation "radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice, leaving States scrambling and exponentially increasing food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans."

Biden, on the other hand, has been working to help low-income Americans obtain needed nutrition benefits since he entered office.

Days after the inauguration, he signed an executive order that increased SNAP benefits by $1 billion a month, correcting an error that could be attributed to a faulty rollout by the Trump administration of a stipulation contained within federal coronavirus relief legislation.

Biden's COVID relief legislation, the American Rescue Plan, also contained expansions of funding for food stamps during the pandemic.

Other line items in Biden's budget proposal that are distinctly domestic priorities include $8.7 billion allotted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $10.7 billion for opioid research and addiction prevention, and various expenditures to combat racial disparities in areas like policing, maternal mortality, and housing.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.