A mammoth coronavirus funding deal reached by Senate leadership and the White House includes more than $15 billion in additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
The boost in funding marks a policy win for Democrats, who had pushed for it to be included in the bill and warned its exclusion could be a deal-breaker as leadership weighs clearing the Senate bill through the House by unanimous consent.
The bill, according to a summary from Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), would provide $15.5 billion for “waiver authorities” and “anticipated increases in participation as a result of coronavirus.”
According to legislative text circulated by Shelby’s office, the money could be used when the Department of Agriculture deems it “necessary to support participation should cost or participation exceed budget estimates to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”
Along with the $15.5 billion, an additional $100 million would be given to food distribution programs on Indian reservations. Another $200 million would go to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and American Samoa “for nutrition assistance to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally.”
Whether or not to include additional food assistance funding was one of the final points of contention for the stimulus negotiations and one Democrats were pushing for hard.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that she had thought there was an agreement to increase SNAP funding by 15 percent, but as of Monday night it had been removed from negotiations over what will be in the bill.
“As [of] last night, they said that’s out. I hope that’s not the case, because that’s so needed,” she told CNBC on Tuesday.