WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it’s moving full steam ahead with new regulations to get food stamps, saying they will close loopholes and stop fraud.
“We’re going to continue moving as quickly as we can to restore integrity,” USDA Food Nutrition and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps said.
That’s despite objections from Democrats, who call the changes cruel.
“They are hurtful and they are an assault on poor people,” Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, said in January. “How do you take food from hungry children?”
She and other opponents argue the three new policies, which require states to enforce stricter eligibility requirements for public benefits, will eventually kick 4 million Americans off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, including kids reliant on the free or reduced lunch program.
“That’s a bit of a misconception,” Lipps rebutted. “None of our rules kick anybody off the program.”
He said in most cases, filling out a one-page application will keep kids on lunch programs.
But the new rules mean some will lose their SNAP benefits. The USDA says they are meant to prevent misuse of the system.
“There’s no asset test, so millionaires can legally come on the program and access those benefits,” Lipps said.
He admitted, however, there is no actual data showing that’s happening.
“The millionaire is certainly anecdotal. We don’t have evidence on the asset of the individuals coming on to the food stamp program through broad-based categorical eligibility because we don’t ask people about their assets,” he said.
Several states are suing the Trump administration to prevent the changes, the first of which are new work requirements set to take effect in April.