The Delta Caucus endorsed Tuesday (Nov. 17) President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to expand funding and access for job creation with higher wages, SNAP and other nutrition benefits, and a broad range of initiatives for economically distressed populations. The group said Biden’s proposals stood in contrast to President Donald Trump’s opposition to many of these programs.
About 43 million Americans now receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), a 17% (6 million) increase since the pandemic hit. Census data shows four in 10 households are struggling to afford food and medical care.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration proposed a rules change that would cut $5.5 billion from the SNAP program during the next five years. It would have removed about 700,000 people, many of whom were unemployed, from the SNAP rolls. In October, a federal judge blocked the the rules change after it was challenged by several states.
“Biden’s bipartisan plan for fighting poverty and hunger provides a welcome contrast to President Trump’s radical departure from the traditional Republican support for SNAP, going back to President Nixon and Bob Dole’s staunch support of food stamps and the many Republicans in Congress today who still support SNAP and believe no American should go hungry,” said Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell.
The Delta Caucus endorsed Biden’s plans for a 15% increase in SNAP benefits, support for the Pandemic EBT (electronic benefit transfer), the rolling back of Trump administration efforts to obstruct people from gaining SNAP benefits, improving USDA Rural Development housing, infrastructure and small business programs.
Trump has proposed additional regulations that would terminate or sharply cut SNAP benefits to four million Americans, according to research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., voted against the Farm Bill in 2018 after it didn’t address changes to SNAP.
“While the farm bill has many important provisions for Arkansas’ farmers and ranchers and foresters, I was very disappointed at the lack of meaningful food stamp reform. Forty million Americans are using food stamps today at a time when we have booming economic growth. In 2009, at the depths of the last recession, only 33 million Americans were using food stamps. One reason is we won’t even ask grown men without kids to get a job or even do job training or volunteer work. I think Arkansas taxpayers deserve better than that,” Cotton said at the time.
The pandemic has created an extraordinary number of unemployed and underfed people in the Delta, and it’s a problem that will have to be addressed in the coming year, Lee added.
“Hunger and poverty are serious problems in every state in the nation, but are particularly dire in Arkansas and the entire Mississippi Delta Region,” said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a nationwide nonprofit group.