Millions of people are at risk of losing their food stamp benefits if the government is not reopened by February, CBS News reports.
The partial government shutdown, which has now stretched into its third week, has left the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), unfunded.
SNAP is automatically renewed but Congress has not voted to fund the program past January. Congress set aside $3 billion in emergency funds for SNAP but that sum would not cover all of February’s obligations. In September 2018, the USDA distribute $4.7 billion in SNAP funds.
It’s unclear how long the shutdown could last. President Donald Trump told Congressional leaders that he is comfortable holding out for “months” or even “years.” There is no funding at all for March, which would leave tens of millions of people without food aid.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 42 million people received SNAP benefits in 2017, nearly 70 percent of which were participants in families with children.
Other programs already cut:
Other programs like the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) have not been funded at all during the shutdown. According to the USDA, the programs "can continue to operate at the State and local level with any funding and commodity resources that remain available.”
In 2018, roughly 7 million Americans received WIC benefits, which are given to pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 whose income makes them a “nutritional risk.”
“Americans who benefit from both SNAP and WIC would be particularly affected in February,” CBS News reported. “Child Nutrition Programs, including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk will continue operations through February, according to the USDA. Staffing for Food and Nutrition Services, which oversees the Child Nutrition Programs, SNAP, and WIC, has been cut by 95 percent since the shutdown began.”
No end to shutdown in sight:
The Guardian reported that Democrats and the White House remained “far apart” after negotiations proved “fruitless” over the weekend.
Trump continued to demand $5.6 billion to fund his proposed border wall with more than 800,000 federal workers without pay for the third straight week.
Trump claimed to reporters Sunday that many of the workers not receiving pay “agree 100% with what I’m doing”.
“They will make an adjustment because they want to see the border taken care of,” he said.
Trump has floated the idea of declaring a national emergency to get around Congress and fund the wall, but such a move is expected to be met with court challenges.