STATEMENT: Trump Administration’s Latest Rule Will Take the Food Off the Tables of Millions, Says CAP’s Ben Olinsky

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Trump administration announced a proposed rule that would gut the nation’s largest and most critical food assistance program—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—by eliminating broad-based categorical eligibility for the program.  Categorical eligibility allows states to automatically enroll households in SNAP if they qualify for a noncash benefit or for service that is part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This new proposed rule would rob states of that option.

Eliminating categorical eligibility would cause 3 million people, including seniors and people with disabilities, to lose their SNAP benefits, increasing the risk of food insecurity for families who are already struggling to get by. The proposed rule is also likely to make  of children ineligible for free school meal programs, allowing them to go hungry and therefore be unready to learn—both physically and cognitively. Following the release of the proposed rule, Ben Olinsky, senior vice president of Policy and Strategy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:

After failing to weaponize the 2018 Farm Bill to strike categorical eligibility from the SNAP program, President Donald Trump is defying Congress and waging war on workers and families who are struggling to make ends meet. He’s tried to take away their health care, attacked their labor rights, attempted to deport them, and, now, once again is attacking access to critical nutrition assistance. Eliminating categorical eligibility for SNAP will literally take food off the table for millions of people.

On top of that, it would punish families that try to save for the future by forcing states to take food assistance away from those with even modest savings of a few thousand dollars—which could help them weather a health emergency, a car breaking down, or the loss of a job. This rule would disproportionately hurt families with children, seniors, and disabled people.

The proposed rule would also increase states’ administrative costs. The 43 states that use broad-based categorical eligibility would have to change their eligibility rules, modify their computer systems, and retrain staff, placing an undue burden on state governments and making it more difficult for recipients and applicants to navigate the program.

If what he was doing wasn’t so extraordinarily cruel, it would be ironic that President Trump long promised to help “forgotten men and women.” But Trump’s continued assaults on struggling workers and families, coupled with his tax law written to help the extremely rich, make his real priority clear: taking from those who have the least to give to those who have the most.

For more information or to speak to an expert, please contact Julia Cusick at  or 202-495-3682.