Bill Could Spell A Significant Change In Who Can Receive SNAP Benefits

( — The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee last week unveiled the 2024 Farm Bill, which includes over 100 bipartisan measures, including one that would repeal the ban on providing SNAP benefits to those convicted of drug offenses.

Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said in a statement last week that the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act reflected “bipartisan priorities” that would keep “rural communities strong,” families fed, and “farmers farming.”

Stabenow called on House Republicans to take the package “seriously” and return to the negotiating table to finish the Farm Bill before it expires at the end of the year.

Congressional Republicans have a different version of the 2024 Farm Bill that would extend some farm subsidies and place limits on the SNAP program.

According to Senator Stabenow, the Senate bill includes a “historic investment in climate-smart conservation” and measures to ensure that the SNAP program “keeps up with the realities of American life.”

One bill included is the RESTORE Act (Re-Entry Support Through Opportunities for Resources and Essentials Act).

Introduced last May by Tennessee Democrat Rep. Steve Cohen, the RESTORE Act would repeal the law preventing drug offenders from receiving SNAP benefits. It would allow drug offenders to apply for benefits before they are released from prison and would also codify in the USDA waiver that ex-offenders can apply for SNAP up to 30 days before their release date to ensure that they have access to the program as soon as they are out of prison.

Democrat Senators Cory Booker (NJ) and Raphael Warnock (GA) introduced bicameral legislation in the Senate.

The ban on drug offenders receiving food stamps was enacted as part of the 1996 war on drugs.

According to Senators Booker and Warnock, the ban “increased barriers to reentry” for those released from prison.

The senators argued last year that allowing ex-offenders to receive SNAP benefits would “reduce recidivism” by ensuring the newly released do not face “food insecurity.”

Booker said in a 2023 statement that denying SNAP benefits to individuals based on previous drug convictions served no safety purpose and perpetuated “cycles of hunger, poverty, addiction, and recidivism.”

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