Peterson notes governors get SNAP waivers as campaign begins
June 18, 2018
While House Republicans consider whether to vote for a farm bill that would impose stiffer work requirements on food stamp beneficiaries, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has written an article pointing out that both Democratic and Republican governors have asked for waivers from the current work requirements, and that the Trump administration has granted them.
The work requirements "don't work because they're too rigid and don't offer the states any flexibility, so states ask instead to waive the requirements altogether, which sabotages the original intent of reform," Peterson wrote in the opinion article that has been published in several newspapers in his state.
"In Minnesota, our governor requested waivers for counties with 1 percent unemployment by combining those counties with areas of high unemployment," Peterson continued.
"In other states like California, Nevada, New Mexico, Louisiana and Illinois, governors from both parties requested waivers for their entire states. In all cases, the Trump administration granted the requests. This system has allowed us to ignore the real problems within SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the formal name for food stamps) for 22 years," he added.
An April 6 document from the Agriculture Department's Food and Nutrition Service confirms that Alaska, California, the District of Columbia, Guam, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have requested state-wide or territorial-wide waivers, and that 28 other states including Minnesota have requested and seen approved waivers that apply to certain areas of their states.
In the opinion piece, Peterson defended his decision not to support the Republican farm bill because it would not solve the problems with SNAP.
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Peterson is known for bucking his own party frequently, but has said that House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, declined to work with him on the nutrition title of the farm bill.
All Democrats voted against the farm bill in committee and on the House floor. The bill failed on the House floor, with members of the conservative Freedom Caucus declining to vote for it because they want a vote on an immigration bill.
The house passed a rule allowing a revote by Friday. If the House leadership brings up immigration legislation this week, Conaway intends to bring it up again.
Sugar growers in his district have noted in newspaper letters to the editor that Democrats voted heavily against an amendment to reduce sugar program benefits, partly as a way of thanking Peterson for his strong position against the Republican SNAP proposal. The sugar amendment, which sweetener users supported, failed by a wide margin.
Peterson has spoken favorably of the bipartisan senate farm bill, which does not make big changes to the SNAP program, but his position may not be popular is his conservative, rural district. He released the op-ed article as his campaign for re-election was starting.
In a May 30 interview with the Willmar, Minn., West Central Tribune that was republished in the Grand Forks Herald, a North Dakota newspaper just across the border from his western Minnesota district, Peterson noted that in 2016, the same year that Donald Trump was elected president, he was re-elected to the house with 52 percent of the vote.
"I survived, people still can't believe I did that," Peterson said. "We are going to run a more aggressive campaign this time."
Republican Dave Hughes, who ran against Peterson in 2016, has received his party's endorsement and formally filed for candidacy against Peterson.
Hughes is a retired Air Force officer from Karlstad who trains U.S. Customs and Border Protection pilots.
Peterson is a member of the Blue Dog Democrats, a mostly conservative group that had 54 members in 2009 but was nearly wiped out in the 2010 elections and has only 19 members today. Blue Dog candidates are attempting a resurgence in 2018, Roll Call reported recently.