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Letter to The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack calling for a thorough examination of how the President's unilateral changes to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work requirements may place a greater burden on taxpayers by expanding the number of households eligible for the Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which already costs the taxpayer over $75 billion per year.

Senator Roberts is the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and Senator Hatch is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Finance.

The following is the text of the letter sent July 26, 2012:

We write concerning the impacts of the July 12, 2012, Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) information memorandum allowing a waiver of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work requirements. The new HHS policy threatens the tenets of TANF that require able-bodied adults to work or prepare to work before receiving welfare and, importantly, runs contrary to Congressional intent in the 1996 welfare reform law. We are concerned the change to TANF may lead to an increase in the number of households eligible for the Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through categorical eligibility beyond Congressional intent. This could result in a corresponding increase in taxpayer expenditures for SNAP food benefits. Therefore, we respectfully request answers to the following questions:

* How many households currently participating in SNAP have been made eligible for SNAP due to categorical eligibility from TANF, and what is the annual cost to taxpayers for the SNAP food benefits paid to those households?

* How many households currently participating in SNAP would not have been otherwise eligible for SNAP without categorical eligibility from TANF, and what is the annual cost to taxpayers for the SNAP food benefits paid to those households?

* Under the new HHS policy directive, how many additional households will be eligible for TANF, how many additional households will be eligible for SNAP, and what will be the estimated cost to taxpayers for additional SNAP food benefits?

In this budget climate, it is absolutely critical that Congress consider and understand the full impact of all budgetary expenditures in the SNAP program, including the size and scope of TANF categorical eligibility for SNAP. We look forward to your response.


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