Helen H. Richardson | Denver Post | Getty Images
United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, right, listens during a round table discussion with local Colorado vegetable growers on May 15, 2018 in Brighton, Colorado. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is visiting Colorado as part of a tour highlighting Trump administration priorities on support for farmers and food stamps.
Millions of Americans who depend on food stamps will receive benefits to buy food through February despite the ongoing partial government shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the USDA will take advantage of temporary funding to cover the cost of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, for the month of February, estimated at $4.8 billion for the approximately 38 million recipients, according to a USDA news release.
@SecretarySonnyAt the direction of @POTUS, we’ve announced a plan to fully fund SNAP benefits for February, despite Congress’ inability to send the President an appropriations bill that secures our borders. We’re doing right and feeding everyone. Details: http://bit.ly/2Ff3QCt
The USDA is asking states to issue February’s benefits earlier than usual on Jan. 20 to take advantage of a 2018 continuing resolution that kept the government funded temporarily as Congress tried and failed to pass an appropriations bill for fiscal 2019. The CR expired Dec. 21, 2018 but allows the government to make payments for 30 days after it expires. SNAP is fully funded for January.
Other nutrition assistance programs including school meals and the Women, Infants and Children program will continue through March, according to the release.
“Our motto here at USDA has been to ‘Do Right and Feed Everyone,'” Perdue said in a release. “With this solution, we’ve got the ‘Feed Everyone’ part handled. And I believe that the plan we’ve constructed takes care of the ‘Do Right’ part as well.”
SNAP became a point of contention for lawmakers as Congress struggled to reach a funding agreement. The program has just $3 billion in a contingency fund, prompting fears that food assistance to the most vulnerable Americans would run out as a result of the shutdown.
SNAP funding for March is uncertain as the shutdown enters its 19th day with no resolution in sight.