WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ With many restaurants cut off from customers amid the coronavirus pandemic, one lawmaker has a plan to help those struggling businesses, as well as those looking for their next meal.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, recently penned the “COVID-19 Anti-Hunger Restaurant Relief for You Act” which would allow Americans to use food stamps at restaurants nationwide.
“We don’t want this crisis to be a mass extinction event for the restaurant industry,” Murphy said. “Allowing more people with food benefits to be able to get their food from restaurants we’re providing some critical business.”
“Frankly, grocery stores are not the safest place for everybody right now, and there are a lot of restaurants open and delivering meals,” he added.
As unemployment numbers increase, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, said she wants to see SNAP benefits increase as well.
“We’re trying to make the benefits that people have access to more generous, we want to give more food to more people,” Gillibrand said.
But Republicans like Rep. Tom Reed, R-New York, argue that the response to food insecurity must be laser-focused on the pandemic.
“I’m open to supporting that effort, but if you’re talking about fundamentally proposing these changes that are permanent for the future of America I will not support that,” Reed said.
Reed said an expansion to SNAP benefits, if approved, should expire once the pandemic is over.
Gillibrand said the next step will be to get Senate Republicans on board with the idea.
“Unfortunately, [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have blocked adding more money for food stamps in the last four bills so hopefully in this next bill, it will be included,” she said.