The Honorable Sonny Perdue Secretary United States Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Ave., S.W. Washington, DC 20250
August 20, 2019
Dear Secretary Perdue:
We write to provide comment and share our support for the Department’s proposed rule regarding broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE) for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamp, benefits (RIN 0584-AE62). This rule is an important step toward reducing fraud and abuse and ensuring the food stamp program remains focused on supporting the truly needy.
Under both the Clinton and Obama administrations, states were granted the flexibility to abuse broad-based categorical eligibility as a means by which to enroll non-eligible individuals in the food stamp program. The loophole allows states to enroll people who are simply “authorized to receive” a welfare brochure, regardless of whether they meet federal eligibility criteria. As a result, more than five million people with assets and/or incomes above federal thresholds are receiving food stamp benefits today.
Thousands of our truly needy constituents rely on this important program to put food on the table, but this loophole has allowed finite taxpayer resources to be given to those without real need, including millionaires. With a national debt of over $22.5 trillion, it is absolutely critical that we prioritize welfare funding for the truly needy, and we believe this rule will do just that.
Closing the BBCE loophole will move those with assets and/or income above statutory limits off the food stamp program—saving taxpayers billions of dollars each year—and will preserve resources for the nation’s most vulnerable. Additionally, the attached report suggests that closing BBCE loopholes will also help reduce states’ administrative costs, granting our states an opportunity to redirect more funding toward people instead of programs.
We applaud the Trump administration and the Department for its commitment to refocusing the food stamp program on the truly needy, and we are ready to serve as a resource as you finalize this important rule. We look forward to working with you to implement a strong food stamp program that supports the nutritional needs of our truly needy constituents.