Heat or Food? New Trump Rule would reduce food assistance in states facing high heating costs

by Etta O’Donnell-King

Once again, the Trump administration is trying to take food assistance (SNAP) away from families across the country.

On October 3, 2019, the Trump administration published a rule that would cut a net total of $4.5 billion over five years by changing how states take households’ utility costs into account in determining the amount of SNAP benefits for which they qualify.

This latest attack would reduce food assistance from four out of every nine (43%) Oregonians participating in SNAP. If this rule would have been in place in 2018, it would have meant $60 million less in SNAP benefits going to Oregonians. Oregon would be among the hardest hit of any state by this rule. While some people in other states may actually see a small increase in SNAP benefits, exactly zero Oregonians would be better off under this rule.

Specifically, the proposed rule would change the way the Standard Utility Allowances (SUA) is used to calculate the amount of benefits a household receives. It would eliminate state-specific SUAs in favor of a standardized and capped SUA calculation across the country. The rule would disproportionately hurt states like Oregon that face high heating costs.

This is the fourth attempt by the Trump Administration to take away food assistance by attempting to circumvent Congress–which rejected many of these proposed changes in the 2018 farm bill–by attempting to change administrative rules.

Take Action – Make a Public Comment Opposing this Proposal

Submitting a public comment is the best way to make your voice heard. By federal law, all original comments must be read and taken into consideration, so please personalize your comment to maximize your impact. Courts have blocked previous rule proposals in part because of the irreparable harm documented through public comments.

Making a comment is easy. It’s a lot like writing an email to your member of Congress. The only difference is your comment will become part of the public record. Individuals, organizations, and community leaders are encouraged to make comments. The 60-day comment window is now open through December 2. Make your comment here.

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