To the editor:
Congress and President Trump must resume negotiations now to enact a COVID response bill.
With more than 110,000 Kansans and roughly 30 million Americans unemployed, it is frustrating that Congress and the White House couldn’t negotiate a COVID response bill.
With reduced unemployment benefits, Americans are struggling to put food on their tables and keep a roof over their heads. Millions of low-income renters are under threat of eviction and homelessness. When people cannot work, they cannot pay rent or afford adequate nutrition. With more than 30 million Americans unemployed while food prices are rising, people are forced to choose between rent and groceries.
SNAP is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger. And it is built for crises just like this. Back in 2008, SNAP not only reduced food insecurity in the middle of a recession, it also helped the economy recover (every $1 in new SNAP spending creates $1.50-1.80 in economic activity). It can do so again.
There appears to be some bipartisan support in Congress to provide emergency rental assistance and enact a national moratorium on evictions. This will help renters stay housed, landlords get paid and keep food on the table. But the White House is stalling. And President Trump’s executive action on evictions is just smoke – it doesn’t stop evictions nor provide any new funds to help people pay rent.
It’s time for Congress and President Trump to resume negotiations now and enact a COVID-19 deal that includes $100 billion in emergency rental assistance, a national moratorium on evictions and increase the maximum SNAP benefit by 15%.