For the first half of President Donald Trump’s term in office, a lot of issues have had their day in the sun, but one that desperately needs attention in this country is child poverty. In the United States, 11.8 percent of children are living in absolute poverty, and 21 percent of American children are living with incomes below the federal poverty threshold.That is an unacceptable number for a rich country like ours and far beyond the child poverty rate in other Western countries. Though the U.S. has made progress toward reducing its child poverty rates through government policies such as the Child Tax Credit, Congress has taken steps during this session that will reverse that good work and could possibly lead to a dramatic increase in child poverty rates.

One example of Congress’ lack of commitment toward addressing child poverty was when it let funding temporarily lapse for the Children’s Health Insurance Program last year — putting 9 million children in danger of losing healthcare. However, more sinister actions have been taken lately to put many of America’s children at risk. Provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill that recently moved forward in the House of Representatives are a prominent example. In the bill, there is a section that would strengthen work requirements for those receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The proposed changes are a dramatic tightening of the program’s eligibility requirements. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 1 million people would be kicked out of SNAP if these work requirements were put into place. This is obscene, especially since SNAP is working, evidenced by the child poverty rate being cut in half. SNAP is also largely responsible for contributing to the long-term health of its recipients. This is the opposite direction that we should be going in, especially when considering that investing in the health of children is important to the long term health of our country.

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