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Congressional Tri-Caucus Urge Speaker Mccarthy to Protect SNAP Amid GOP Threats to Default on National Debt

Today, nearly 6.5 million people rely on SNAP. Proposed GOP budget cuts to SNAP would exacerbate racial disparities in food insecurity.

Today, the Chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus — Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Rep. Steven Horsford (NV-04), Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chair Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-28) — issued letters to President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy regarding their respective budget proposals – specifically calling attention to funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which some House Republicans propose cutting as a part of any agreement to pay America’s bills.

In the letter to President Biden, the Tri-Caucus Chairs commended the president for his commitment to preserving food assistance programs – particularly in allocating $6.3 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in his FY2024 budget proposal.

In the letter to Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the Tri-Caucus Chairs expressed their strong opposition to House Republicans defaulting on our national debt or passing a budget or Farm Bill that would cut federal food assistance programs and expand work requirements for SNAP as part of any agreement to raise the debt ceiling. The Chairs expressed to Speaker McCarthy that cuts to SNAP – the most effective federal program that lowers food insecurity and mitigates racial disparities in rates of food insecurity – would ultimately take food away from families and children, older Americans, veterans, and others. The Chairs note that the proposed cuts to SNAP would have a profound impact on low-income Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Indigenous households by exacerbating existing racial disparities in communities that already face high levels of hunger and nutrition-related illness as result of limited access to quality food options.

According to USDA data, in 2021 food insecurity affected about 20 percent of households headed by a Black adult, 18 percent headed by an American Indian or Alaska Native adult, and 16 percent headed by a Hispanic adult — all more than twice the share of households headed by a white adult (7 percent). In addition, USDA data reports prevalence of food insufficiency in 2022 was highest among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander households (23.6 percent), Black households (19.7 percent), and American Indian and Alaska Native households (19.6 percent). More recently, USDA reported that child food insufficiency affected 23.2 percent of Black households, 21.9 percent of Hispanic households, and 13 percent of Asian households in February 2023 (compared to 8.2 percent of White non-Hispanic households).

Additionally, the Chairs note in the letter to McCarthy the impact that cuts to SNAP would have on small business and local retailers. Every dollar in new SNAP benefits generates business for over 250,000 local retailers of all types and sizes, and increases the Gross Domestic Product by $1.50 during a weak economy.  SNAP benefits are one of the fastest, most effective forms of economic stimulus during a recession. SNAP is both essential for American families and good for our economy.

“Speaker McCarthy and the extreme MAGA Republicans are holding the American people hostage by threatening to default on our debt, and they are willing to take food off of kitchen tables to get their way. Leaving food assistance programs like SNAP on the cutting room floor will hurt everyday Americans, particularly low-income communities of color who rely on food assistance to survive. Republicans are playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship with our national debt, and if they do not pass a clean debt ceiling, it will be the American people who will be forced to pay the price,” said Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Rep. Steven Horsford (NV-04).

“”Playing politics with the debt ceiling is dangerous. Defaulting on our debt will increase costs, take away jobs, and take away benefits for everyday Americans. Republicans have made it clear that they are willing to rip away food assistance from the millions of people who rely on these programs and leave families struggling. SNAP is our country’s most significant and effective anti-hunger program that keeps food on the table and children healthy. Cuts to these programs often harm Latino, Black, and other communities of color and other marginalized communities most. Speaker McCarthy should follow President Biden’s lead and present a comprehensive proposal that strengthens the programs Americans need to survive. The choice he is forcing the country to make – between cutting SNAP and other essential programs or defaulting on our debt – is unreasonable and cruel,” said Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chair Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44). 

“A strong SNAP program feeds families of all types, including AANHPI ones, and is one of the fastest, most effective forms of stimulus to local economies during times of economic hardship. While President Biden’s proposed budget keeps food on families’ kitchen tables, extreme Republicans keep threatening a calamitous national default so they can rip away benefits or erect barriers to the program. We can’t allow the SNAP program to be taken hostage to avoid a national default, and we can’t allow a bipartisan Farm Bill to similarly be taken hostage to force through changes to the program,” said Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus(CAPAC) Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-28).

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