Fudge asks longer comment period as USDA releases SNAP ABAWD rule
February 5, 2019
The Agriculture Department late last week released its proposed rule that would limit waivers on how long people classified as able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDS) can get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, and opened a 60-day comment period that ends on April 2.
But House Agriculture Nutrition, Oversight and Government Operations Subcommittee Chair Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, wrote Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging him to make the comment period 120 days.
In the rule published in the Federal Register, USDA said "The department proposes to amend the regulatory standards by which the department evaluates state SNAP agency requests to waive the time limit and to end the unlimited carryover of ABAWD percentage exemptions. The proposed rule would encourage broader application of the statutory ABAWD work requirement, consistent with the administration's focus on fostering self-sufficiency. The department seeks comments from the public on the proposed regulations."
In her letter, Fudge argued that extra time is needed on the grounds that a similar provision was debated at length as part of negotiations on the 2018 farm bill and overwhelmingly rejected by the bipartisan, bicameral conference committee.
"This language was vetted in detail for five full months by members of the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee before being struck from the final bill," wrote Fudge. "As you know, the House and Senate ultimately passed a farm bill conference report by historic margins, and the president signed the bill without delay."
In the letter, Fudge reminded Perdue of his promise that USDA would do its "best to implement that bill" as Congress intended.
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"This proposed rule does just the opposite," Fudge wrote.