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Faced with a fractional government abeyance with no assertive end in sight, the Agriculture Administration has appear up with a account workaround to ensure Supplemental Diet Assistance Affairs (SNAP) allowances abide to be paid out through February.
“President Donald Trump directed the Office of Management and Account and USDA to actuate a way to absolutely armamentarium all the SNAP through the ages of February, and we will do aloof that,” Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters in a appointment alarm Tuesday night.
Brandon Lipps, the acting Deputy Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS) explained the bureau will accumulate accouterment allowances through a accouterment in the aftermost continuing resolution, which allows USDA affairs operations like SNAP and adolescent diet programs to acquire new obligations aural 30 canicule of the CR’s expiration.
Under the now-expired CR, USDA has until Jan. 20 to pay out February SNAP benefits.
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“The funds that we’re advising you today that we will be application are appointed from the continuing resolution that asleep on Dec. 21, and so will not charge to be appointed in a approaching bill,” Lipps said.
USDA accurately acicular to Section 110 of the continuing resolution, which states “funds shall be available” for entitlements and added binding payments fabricated beneath the 2008 Aliment and Diet Act until 30 canicule afterwards the CR expires.
The agency’s move to ensure SNAP recipients will receive next month’s allowances avalanche in band with the Trump administration’s advance to accumulate public-facing afloat during a blooper in bureau funding.
On Monday, the IRS appear it would still affair tax refunds starting on Jan. 28.
USDA has provided aboriginal SNAP allowances to states impacted by accustomed disasters, and will chase the aforementioned arrangement to pay out allowances during the shutdown.
“If you attending at the accomplished blow seasons, back states are acquainted that a blow is headed against their state, they assignment with us to appeal the adeptness to affair their allowances aboriginal as a lot of bodies abandon their state. They will appetite to booty those allowances with them and use them wherever they go,” Lipps said.
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Lipps said he was “not aware” if USDA has anytime followed its natural-disaster SNAP playbook during a abeyance before, but said the action would “maximize the time and flexibility” USDA has in carrying February benefits.
“We apperceive this is a time of abundant ambiguity and no agnosticism some all-overs for the bodies who await on SNAP in ambidextrous with boxy times,” Lipps said. “I achievement that it’s abating for us to accomplish bright today that we’re committed to advancement account to SNAP audience after abeyance to the admeasurement accessible beneath the law.”
USDA has directed states to request early arising of February SNAP allowances afore the Jan. 20 deadline. Lipps said USDA beatific belletrist to all accompaniment agencies on Tuesday.
“States will amount those funds assimilate the beneficiaries’ agenda above-mentioned to Jan. 20. Those funds will be accessible on their agenda to admission at the abundance at that time,” Lipps said.
And the CR workaround will not anticipate new households from signing up for SNAP benefits.
Officials said the administration additionally has articular prior-year funds that will be provided to states’ Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs to accomplish for February.
USDA spends about $4.8 billion per ages on SNAP. The bureau additionally has a $3 billion accident fund, which Lipps said would abide artless beneath this plan.
Some USDA functions, such as aliment assurance inspections and law administration in civic forests, additionally abide in aftereffect beneath the fractional government shutdown.
Perdue said the band-aid band-aid serves USDA’s motto: “Do appropriate and augment everyone.”
“At the president’s direction, we’ve been alive with OMB on this solution. It works and is accurately sound, and we appetite to assure states and SNAP recipients that the allowances for February will be provided,” Perdue said.
The USDA secretary additionally apprenticed the House and the Senate to appear to an acceding on spending bills that would end the fractional government shutdown.
“The admiral has been absolutely bright about what he expects to see in an appropriations amalgamation that will end this government shutdown,” Perdue said, apropos to a “steadfast” claiming on bound aegis funding.
So what if the abeyance extends able-bodied into February, and threatens SNAP and WIC allowances for March? Perdue said the concise SNAP plan should accord Congress “ample time” to ability a spending acceding afore it disrupts benefits distribution for March.