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Biden’s Plan Would Fix SNAP Eligibility for Formerly Incarcerated People Banned From Benefits

The Counter: Simran Sethi - April 30, 2021

On Wednesday, the Biden Administration introduced a $1.8 trillion package called the American Families Plan that intends to expand access to health care and education, increase child care support for families, and reduce food insecurity through the expansion and improvement of federal nutrition programs. Included within the hunger reduction efforts is a provision a younger Joe Biden would find surprising: an initiative to “facilitate re-entry for formerly incarcerated individuals through SNAP eligibility.”

During the summer of 1996, the Senate set its focus on a short provision to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), a bill signed into law by President Bill Clinton as part of his sweeping attempt to “end welfare as we know it,” and a broader cultural response to the so-called “war on drugs.”

Introduced by Texas Senator Phil Gramm, the provision known as Section 115 proposed that anyone convicted of a felony drug offense should be permanently denied access to anti-hunger programs like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which provides cash assistance to low income families with children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food assistance.

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