A New Year, and Hopefully a New Approach in Washington

January 5, 2018 By: Marcus Schmit

Hope springs eternal in the New Year and we’re encouraged that Members of Congress returning to Washington from the holiday break will commit to at least one New Year’s resolution in 2018 – foregoing the unnecessary and inhumane effort to cut federal safety net programs such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Passage of the federal tax bill created a trillion-dollar hole in the federal budget deficit that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan signaled he will address through huge cuts to essential safety net programs, including Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Hundreds of thousands of low- and middle-income Minnesotans rely on these investments each year. They prevent working families from falling further into poverty and folks facing unexpected health care costs from filing bankruptcy.

Second Harvest Heartland, along with our hunger relief partners, remain laser-focused on promoting a farm bill that works for everyone as House and Senate Agriculture Committees prioritize reauthorizing the law that supports our growers and hungry folks that rely on food assistance. Just as importantly, we will monitor and encourage Minnesota’s congressional delegation – our eight representatives and two senators – to resist unnecessary and inhumane cuts to the federal safety net to pay for last month’s tax bill. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed opposition to “welfare reform” strategies under consideration by Speaker Ryan – and we side with McConnell.

Reduced funding for Medicaid – known as Medical Assistance in Minnesota – and SNAP will increase food insecurity in our communities and exacerbate problems facing struggling Minnesotans. Our state’s emergency food community of food shelf and meal program partners is not equipped to meet the increased demand expected from these massive cuts. Facilities, resources and volunteers are already strained, and if billions of dollars are eliminated from medical and food assistance, more Minnesotans will go hungry.

We hope that a New Year will inspire a new approach in Congress.

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