Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

President Donald Trump holds up an executive order to streamline the approval process for GMO crops as Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue claps at the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy ethanol plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa on June 11, 2019. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

'Unconscionable': Amid Coronavirus Crisis, Trump Moves to Take Food Stamps From Over a Million People

"Really it's a cruel rule, taking food out of the mouths of hungry individuals."

Jake Johnson

The Trump administration made clear this week that it has no plans to scrap—or, at the very least, delay—a rule change that could strip federal food assistance from over a million people in the United States as the coronavirus spreads across the nation, heightening the need for measures to protect the most vulnerable from the economic fallout.

Sonny Perdue, head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told House lawmakers during an Appropriations Subcommittee hearing this week that the Trump administration considered pushing back implementation of the rule, set for April 1, but ultimately decided against it.

"This is unconscionable," advocacy group Latino Victory tweeted Thursday.

The rule would impose more strict work requirements on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients and constrain states' authority to waive those requirements—a potentially disastrous change in the midst of a pandemic.

"Really it's a cruel rule, taking food out of the mouths of hungry individuals," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) told Perdue during the budget hearing on Tuesday.

Lauren Bauer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank, told BuzzFeed that she estimated prior to the coronavirus outbreak that 1.3 to 1.5 million people could lose federal nutrition assistance under the Trump administration's SNAP rule change. The Agriculture Department's own estimate indicated that the rule would strip benefits from more than 700,000 people.

"That number is going to be much, much higher" due to COVID-19, Bauer said. "It's going to cause harm both to the people who are eligible for SNAP, but it's also going to cause harm for the economy."

House Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing for a sweeping emergency package that would waive work requirements for SNAP and expand nutrition assistance as the U.S. struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

In a Dear Colleague letter Thursday, Pelosi expressed confidence that congressional negotiators are "near to a bipartisan agreement" on the emergency legislation and said she expects a House vote on Friday.

But Republican leaders in the Senate and President Donald Trump have publicly dismissed the package, so it is unclear which elements of the legislation will become law.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who delayed the Senate's scheduled March recess but allowed senators to go home for the weekend, called House Democrats' Families First Coronavirus Response Act an "ideological wish list."

Trump described the emergency relief package, which also includes increased Medicaid funding and paid sick leave, as Democrats' attempt "to get some of the goodies that they haven't been able to get for the last 25 years."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Utterly Shameless': Former Democratic Senators Join Fossil Fuel Lobby Group

"This is climate denial and shameful bullshit," scoffed one scientist. "Also the future for Manchin and Sinema."

Brett Wilkins ·


'When You Don't Change People's Lives, People Get Upset,' Says AOC

To reverse slump in Democratic approval ratings, the congresswoman said Biden should start by cancelling student loan debt.

Julia Conley ·


Sioux Tribe Withdraws as Cooperating Agency Over Dakota Access Pipeline Threat

"The prospect of an oil spill during such low water is truly scary," says the tribe's Water Resources Department administrator.

Jessica Corbett ·


New Report Shows How US Transportation System 'Fuels Inequality'

Favoring cars over public transit has "consequences for racial and economic justice, the environment, and more," the Institute for Policy Studies warns.

Brett Wilkins ·


Gas Stoves Even Worse for Climate, Health Than Previously Thought

New study shows methane leaks from U.S. gas-burning stoves have a climate impact comparable to emissions from about 500,000 cars.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo