PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The Trump administration is proposing changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The proposed changes could impact more than 20,000 people in Oregon starting in 2020.
Some of the changes were finalized this week. President Trump has said the new rules will help encourage SNAP recipients to find jobs, but local representatives are pushing back.
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici, met at north Portland's Village Market Friday to protest the changes.
Rep. Blumenauer called the proposal "inhumane."
"It's shameful, we shouldn't outsource our food policy to Ebenezer Scrooge," Rep. Blumenauer said during the news conference.
Sen. Merkley accused President Trump of taking food away from the poorest Americans.
According to Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, the slashes to SNAP will amount to a $144 million loss in benefits across the state of Oregon.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said he's going to fight back to protect the people who need SNAP to feed their families.
"We are going to push back against these horrendous rules," Sen. Wyden said.
So far, the Trump administration has proposed four separate changes to SNAP that local leaders are concerned about. The first, involving how SNAP benefits impact immigrants, is currently stalled under a court order.
Another proposed change would take away the ability of states to look at heating and cooling bills when determining a family's benefit level.
A third proposed change, which would take effect April 1, would impact able-bodied adults without dependents. As written, people who fall into this category would only be able to receive benefits for a maximum of three months in a three-year span.
Annie Kirschner, executive director of Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, told FOX 12 that most counties in the state have been able to waive the requirements. Under the new rule, she believes it's possible no counties in Oregon will have that ability.
The fourth proposal, dealing with categorical eligibility, will lower the amount of income a family can make, based on the federal poverty level, and still be eligible for benefits.
All of these cuts will likely take effect in 2020, Kirschner said, but the only one with a set date is the one dealing with able-bodied adults without dependents work requirements.
Local organizations like the Oregon Food Bank are urging everyone who currently receives SNAP benefits to keep applying and using the benefits.
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