On August 3, Members of Congress headed home for the summer recess and will be back in their states and districts until September 10. The congressional recess is a great opportunity to get “face time” with your Members of Congress and weigh in with them about the importance of SNAP and the federal nutrition programs.
Recess Action Needed:
Anti-hunger advocates must take advantage of the congressional recess and work to ensure that Members support and protect nutrition programs, and especially SNAP, which is under attack. Below are a series of steps to take during the August/September recess to demonstrate to your Members of Congress that SNAP WORKS!
Anti-Hunger Advocates August/September To-Do List:
In any and all actions you take, make sure you relay this message to your Member(s): SNAP WORKS! Members of Congress must work to support and protect SNAP and oppose any proposals that reduce eligibility or benefits. It is not acceptable to cut or weaken the program.
How did Congress leave things?
Just before going home the House leadership tried to move a package that coupled a one-year extension of the farm bill with drought-related disaster assistance. This effort failed and the House passed a stand-alone disaster assistance package before they left town. The Senate did not act on it.
The current Farm Bill expires on September 30. While SNAP, an entitlement program, could continue to operate if no action is taken, other programs do not have that same level of protection, and thus, there is pressure to pass legislation before the end of September.
According to The Hagstrom Report and CQ Roll Call, Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have made plans to (informally) negotiate provisions of a five-year Farm Bill that could include cuts to SNAP. The top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Collin Peterson (MN) told The Hagstrom Report that he would support $8 billion or more in SNAP cuts in negotiations this summer and fall.
In an effort to stave off cuts to SNAP in the Farm Bill, Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), George Miller (D-CA), and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) have introduced a Sense of the House Resolution (H. Res. 760) opposing the $16 billion in SNAP cuts contained in the House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill (H.R. 6083). During the recess, anti-hunger advocates must urge House Members to co-sponsor the resolution.
SNAP Talking Points:
• CUTS TAKE FOOD FROM THE MOST VULNERABLE PEOPLE. The proposed cuts to SNAP will particularly harm seniors, children and working families.
• SNAP works. Weakening SNAP would lead to more hunger and food insecurity, worse health and educational outcomes, and higher health costs.
• Increasing SNAP benefits reduces hunger. USDA researchers found that the boost to SNAP benefits included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) improved the food security of low-income households.
• SNAP is responsive in times of need. SNAP’s responsiveness to unemployment has proved it to be one of the most effective safety net programs during the recession and weak recovery, providing families with a stable source of food.
• SNAP helps the most vulnerable. The average SNAP household has an income of only 57 percent of the federal poverty level; and 84 percent of all benefits go to households with a child, senior, or disabled person.
• SNAP lifts people out of poverty. SNAP lifted 3.9 million Americans above the poverty line in 2010, including 1.7 million children and 280,000 seniors.
• SNAP has – for decades – enjoyed bipartisan support. Earlier this year, polling data from FRAC found that 77 percent of voters said that cutting SNAP would be the wrong way to reduce government spending. Every bipartisan deficit group in 2010-2011 has insulated it from cuts, including the Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin commissions; the Gang of Six; and the August 2011 deficit agreement. In his FY2012 and FY2013 budgets the President has included proposals to strengthen the program.
When you carry these messages to your Members of Congress, it is critical that you include specific data and examples to underscore your district’s concerns. Follow this link to FRAC data you can utilize in your advocacy efforts.
Thank you for your efforts this summer to join us in a national campaign to educate Members of Congress that SNAP works and to advocate that they must support and protect the program at all costs.
New Polling Data
Follow this link to a FRAC memo (pdf) summarizing a new Democracy Corps poll showing widespread voter opposition to cuts in SNAP and other programs that benefit the working poor and those in need.