Some disturbing news to report here from Politico.
The outlet reports Pres. Donald Trump’s administration is fighting in federal court to block states from giving billions of dollars in emergency food stamps to lowest-income Americans during this pandemic.
A troubling development being challenged by citizens of California and Pennsylvania. Which reportedly has kept roughly 40 percent of households who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from receiving any emergency benefits.
While a Pennsylvania federal judge ordered them to proceed with the payments. The U.S. Department of Justice preparing for an appeal. Is the White House trying to kick people when they are down?
The legal dispute centers on how USDA has interpreted language in the nearly $200 billion Families First Coronavirus Response Act, one of the big aid packages Congress passed in March.The law requires USDA to grant state requests to distribute emergency allotments of SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] as long as both the federal government and the state are under an emergency declaration due to Covid-19. But there’s disagreement about how to implement the requirement.
Also the latest proposed economic relief package is said to be caught in limbo. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) taking the lead in lower chamber Democrats’ negotiations with The White House. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is allegedly opposed to any such action before the upcoming election.
She since has shifted the blame back onto rival Republicans. With a major change in leadership possibly coming on Capitol Hill after November 3rd. How does that impact any potential legislation? That is surely something currently under consideration by both sides.
Americans could in fact be left high and dry for the holidays.
But one thing you can be sure of is that so-called elected officials in Washington won’t have to suffer.
This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has been under fire for food related things.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans have become dependent on government food boxes to get their families through. Those food boxes include fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, and dairy products. Those boxes now also include a letter signed by Donald Trump.
The letters are printed off in both English and Spanish and have the White House letterhead. The letter contains the administration’s response to the coronavirus, including aid provided through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
The letter is much like Trump demanding that his name be put on stimulus checks and Democratic lawmakers are calling foul.
Democratic lawmakers say the USDA letter violates the federal Hatch Act. The Hatch Act prohibits government officials from using their positions or taxpayer resources to engage in electioneering. Trump is exempt from the law as president; however, it applies to White House staff and the USDA as well as other agencies.
“Using a federal relief program to distribute a self-promoting letter from the President to American families just three months before the presidential election is inappropriate and a violation of federal law,” Forty-nine House Democrats led by Marcia Fudge of Ohio argued in a letter they penned back on August 14 to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The letter requests information about the purpose and process behind Trump’s letter.
“A public health crisis is not an opportunity for the administration to promote its own political interests. Likewise, a federal food assistance program should not be used as a tool for the President to exploit taxpayer dollars for his re-election campaign.”
Mark Quandt, the executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York said in an email that “as a non-profit, we would have to take the letter out of the boxes if they were included because we can’t publicly support political candidates.”
The White House promoted the letter’s debut in a press release and a tweet from Ivanka Trump.
The letters have reportedly already shown up at some food banks in the Feeding America network.
Government food boxes have come under fire recently for their reliance on questionable vendors and failing to match supply with needs.
“Although Congress allocated billions of dollars to distribute food to Americans in need, I am concerned that the Trump Administration’s management of this critical effort has been marred by questionable contracting practices, a lack of accountability, and a failure to deliver food to many communities that need it most,” the coronavirus subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., said in an August 24 letter to Perdue.
“Rather than focusing on addressing these problems, the administration appears to be seeking political benefits from the program, including by inserting a letter signed by President Trump in food boxes.”